Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 184, Issue 3, pp 295–305 | Cite as

Mental concatenation of perceptually and cognitively specified depth to represent locations in near space

  • Bing Wu
  • Roberta L. Klatzky
  • Damion Shelton
  • George Stetten
Research Article


The purpose of this study was to examine how discrete segments of contiguous space arising from perceptual or cognitive channels are mentally concatenated. We induced and measured errors in each channel separately, then summed the psychophysical functions to accurately predict pointing to a depth specified by both together. In Experiment 1, subjects drew a line to match the visible indentation of a probe into a compressible surface. Systematic perceptual errors were induced by manipulating surface stiffness. Subjects in Experiment 2 placed the probe against a rigid surface and viewed the depth of a hidden target below it from a remote image with a metric scale. This cognitively mediated depth judgment produces systematic under-estimation (Wu et al. in IEEE Trans Vis Comput Grap 11(6):684–693, 2005; confirmed here). In Experiment 3, subjects pointed to a target location detected by the indented probe and displayed remotely, requiring mental concatenation of the depth components. The model derived from the data indicated the errors in the components were passed through the integration process without additional systematic error. Experiment 4 further demonstrated that this error-free concatenation was intrinsically spatial, rather than numerical.


Spatial Representation Ultrasound Probe Psychophysical Function Direct Perception Target Depth 



This work is supported by grants from NIH (R01-EB00860) and NSF (0308096). Parts of this work were presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bing Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roberta L. Klatzky
    • 1
    • 3
  • Damion Shelton
    • 2
  • George Stetten
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Robotics InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Neural Basis of CognitionCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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