The Psychology of Touch

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

may depend on the increased speed of processing form via sight. If we blur vision sufficiently, normal observers rely on touch ( Heller, 1983). Moreover, visual dominance may break down under circumstances where vision is blurry, as in peripheral vision, or in people with low vision. One would further expect that dominance relationships might shift for people undergoing progressive loss of a sense, as with a person losing sight or hearing.

This raises the question of the "normal observer." Most discussions of intersensory relations assume a "normal" observer. We have methods for testing this in sight, and norms are readily available for acuity, contrast sensitivity, and so on. Unfortunately, we don't have this information for touch. We really don't know what normal touch might be, and this greatly complicates any discussion of intermodal relations. It seems likely that just as there are myopic individuals, and those with poor hearing, there are people with poor touch. This is obvious when a person has neuropathy owing to diabetes, or has peripheral nerve damage. However, we don't even have a name for this sort of defect in the sense of touch. Thus, it becomes difficult to answer questions about which sense is most appropriate for perception of a particular attribute, when we can't assess a "normal" observer, and screen out people with "low touch."

Intermodal relations and perceptual saliency are not constant over the course of development. Newborn animals may be more likely to depend on cutaneous input ( Gottlieb, 1971). Furthermore, it is entirely possible that there is a shift in reliance on the mouth for exploration of objects to the hands in early infancy (see Turkewitz & Mellon, 1989). Bushnell and Boudreau have focused their discussion on the use of the hands for haptics, and perceptual saliency in early infancy.


REFERENCES

Freides D. ( 1974). "Human information processing and sensory modality: Cross-modal functions, information complexity, memory, and deficit". Psychological Bulletin, 81, 284-310.

Gottlieb G. ( 1971). "Ontogenesis of sensory function in birds and mammals". In E. Tobach, L. R. Aronson , & E. F. Shaw (Eds.), "The biopsychology of development" (pp. 67-128). New York: Academic Press.

Heller M. A. ( 1982). "Visual and tactual texture perception: Intersensory cooperation". Perception & Psychophysics, 31, 339-344.

Heller M. A. ( 1983). "Haptic dominance in form perception with blurred vision". Perception, 12, 607-613.

Heller M. A. ( 1989). "Texture perception in sighted and blind observers". Perception & Psychophysics, 45, 49-54.

Lederman S. J. ( 1979). "Auditory texture perception". Perception, 8, 93-103.

Rock I., & Victor J. ( 1964). "Vision and touch: An experimentally created conflict between the two senses". Science, 143, 594-596.

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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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