Experiments with visual illusions have revealed a dissociation between the systems that mediate object perception and those responsible for object-directed action. More recently, an experiment on a haptic version of the visual size–contrast illusion has provided evidence for the notion that the haptic modality shows a similar dissociation when grasping and estimating the size of objects in real-time. Here we present evidence suggesting that the similarities between the two modalities begin to break down once a delay is introduced between when people feel the target object and when they perform the grasp or estimation. In particular, when grasping after a delay in a haptic paradigm, people scale their grasps differently when the target is presented with a flanking object of a different size (although the difference does not reflect a size–contrast effect). When estimating after a delay, however, it appears that people ignore the size of the flanking objects entirely. This does not fit well with the results commonly found in visual experiments. Thus, introducing a delay reveals important differences in the way in which haptic and visual memories are stored and accessed.
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This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to Dr. Jody Culham (#249877-2006 RGPIN).
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