Anisotropy in haptic curvature and shape perception

Sylvia C. Pont*, A. M L Kappers, Jan J. Koenderink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


An investigation was undertaken into whether haptic comparison of curvature and of shape is influenced by the length/width ratio of the hand. For this purpose three experiments were conducted to test the curvature matching of curved strips (experiment 1), the matching of cylindrically curved hand-sized surfaces (experiment 2), and the shape discrimination of elliptically curved hand-sized surfaces (experiment 3). The orientation of the stimuli with respect to the fingers was varied. The results of the two matching experiments showed that a given curvature is judged to be more curved when touched along the fingers than when touched across the fingers. The phenomenal flatness along and across the fingers was found to be different and subject dependent. The results of the shape-discrimination experiment showed that the orientation of ellipsoidal surfaces influences the judgments of the shapes of these surfaces. This influence could be predicted on the basis of results of the second matching experiment. It is concluded that similar mechanisms underlie the (anisotropic) perception of curvature and shape. For the major part the trends in the results can be explained by the length/width ratio of the hand and the phenomenal flatnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-589
Number of pages17
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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