The Psychology of Touch

By Morton A. Heller; William Schiff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
THERMAL SENSIBILITY

Joseph C. Stevens John B. Pierce Foundation and Yale University

It is well known to scholars that Aristotle classified the human senses into five: vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Less known is Aristotle's qualification that touch may comprise several "submodalities;" and, indeed, by the turn of the 20th century, thanks to the German physiologist Max von Frey, it became widely believed that the skin alone houses four separate senses: touch, pain, warmth, and cold ( Boring, 1942; Stevens & Green, 1978a). The issue whether warmth and cold may constitute a single modality, a view championed by von Frey's contemporary, Ewald Hering, rather than two separate modalities, seems to have become largely semantic. Various anatomical and psychophysical considerations argue for independence, others for interaction and continuity. The issue has been brilliantly elucidated by Hensel ( 1982). Thus, when warmth and cold receive here the labels "thermal senses," it is mainly for convenience rather than from a theoretical stance on their independence.


FUNCTIONAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THERMAL SENSIBILITY

Broadly speaking, the thermal senses, like pain, taste, and smell, look perceptually and cognitively impoverished compared with vision and hearing. These latter are superbly fit to register spatial and temporal patterns of stimulation, enabling rich processing of information about the world we live in.

-61-

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The Psychology of Touch
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • References x
  • References xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Part I Sensory Phenomena 21
  • References 22
  • Chapter 2 Sensory and Physiological Bases of Touch 23
  • References 55
  • Chapter 3 Thermal Sensibility 61
  • References 87
  • Chapter 14 Pain Responsiveness 91
  • References 111
  • References 112
  • Part II Development and Intermodal Relations 115
  • References 117
  • Chapter 5 Intermodality Relations: Vision and Touch 119
  • References 135
  • Chapter 6 the Development of Haptic Perception During Infancy 139
  • Part III Tactile Pattern Perception 163
  • References 166
  • Chapter 7 Haptic Perception of Form: Activity and Stimulus Attributes 169
  • Chapter 8 Vibrotactile Pattern Perception: Some Findings and Applications 189
  • References 213
  • Chapter 9 Braille 219
  • References 235
  • References 238
  • Chapter 10 Haptic Perception in Blind People 239
  • Chapter 11 Tactile Pictures 263
  • References 296
  • Chapter 12 a Reversed Lag in the Recognition and Production of Tactual Drawings: Theoretical Implications for Haptic Coding 301
  • References 323
  • Chapter 13 Conclusions: the Future of Touch 327
  • References 336
  • Author Index 339
  • Subject Index 349
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