The tactile integration of local motion cues is analogous to its visual counterpart

Y. C. Pei, S. S. Hsiao, S. J. Bensmaia

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

45 Scopus citations


The visual and somatosensory systems have been shown to process spatial information similarly. Here we investigate tactile motion processing using stimuli whose perceptual properties have been well established in vision research, namely superimposed gratings (plaids), barber poles, and bar fields. In both modalities, information about stimulus motion (speed and direction) conveyed by neurons at low levels of sensory processing is ambiguous, a conundrum known as the aperture problem. Our results suggest that the tactile perception of motion, analogous to its visual counterpart, operates in multiple stages: first, the perceived direction of motion is determined by a majority vote from local motion detectors, which are subject to the aperture problem. As in vision, the conflict between the cues from terminators and other local motion cues is gradually resolved over time so that the perceived direction approaches the veridical direction of motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8130-8135
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - 10 06 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Aperture problem
  • Barber pole
  • Plaid
  • Psychophysics
  • Somatosensory


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