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Illusory rotation in the haptic perception of a moving bar


Haptic matching of the orientation of bars separated by a horizontal distance leads to large systematic deviations. This finding leads to the following intriguing question which we investigated in this study: How will a bar moving from left to right in a fixed orientation be perceived by blindfolded observers? Interestingly, this previous finding predicts that the translating bar will cause the illusory perception of a rotation. In our experiment, we used psychophysical methods to determine the rotation needed to perceive the bar as non-rotating, for both rightward and leftward translations. From our results, it can be estimated that, on average, a bar translating in parallel over 60 cm is perceived as rotating 18°, so we established that the predicted illusory rotation indeed exists. This implies that static and dynamic signals are processed in a similar way.

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The authors thank Zimma Kluit for performing pilot experiments. This research was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

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Correspondence to Astrid M. L. Kappers.

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Kappers, A.M.L., Bergmann Tiest, W.M. Illusory rotation in the haptic perception of a moving bar. Exp Brain Res 231, 325–329 (2013).

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  • Haptic perception
  • Parallel
  • Illusion
  • Rotation