Four experiments tested the hypothesis that bilateral symmetry is an incidental encoding property in vision, but can also be elicited as an incidental effect in touch, provided that sufficient spatial reference information is available initially for haptic inputs to be organized spatially. Experiment 1 showed that symmetry facilitated processing in vision, even though the task required judgments of stimulus closure rather than the detection of symmetry. The same task and stimuli failed to show symmetry effects in tactual scanning by one finger (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 found facilitating effects for vertically symmetric open stimuli, although not for closed patterns, in two-forefinger exploration when the fore-fingers had previously been aligned to the body midaxis to provide body-centered spatial reference. The one-finger exploration condition again failed to show symmetry effects. Experiment 4 replicated the facilitating effects of symmetry for open symmetric shapes in tactual exploration by the two (previously aligned) forefingers. Closed shapes again showed no effect. Spatial-reference information, finger movements, and stimulus factors in shape perception by touch are discussed.
Appelle, S. (1991). Haptic perception of form: Activity and stimulus attributes. In M Heller & W. Schiff (Eds.)The psychology of touch (pp. 169–188). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ballesteros, S. (1993, May).Haptic perception and types of memory for raised patterns and three-dimensional objects. Paper presented at the conference on object representation in visual and haptic systems, Madrid, Spain.
Ballesteros, S., Manga, D., Navarredonda, A. B., & Reales, J. M. (1993, November).Perceptual asymmetry in haptic discrimination. Paper presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Washington, DC.
Ballesteros, S., Manga, D., &Reales, J. M. (1997). Haptic discrimination of bilateral symmetry in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional unfamiliar displays.Perception & Psychophysics,59, 37–50.
Ballesteros, S., & Reales, J. M. (1992, November).The perception ofsymmetric and asymmetric patterns by touch and vision. Paper presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, St. Louis.
Barlow, H. B. (1986). Why we have multiple cortical areas.Vision Research,26, 81–90.
Barlow, H. B., &Reeves, B. C. (1979). The versatility and absolute efficiency of detecting mirror symmetry in random dot displays.Vision Research,19, 783–793.
Berla, E. P., &Butterfield, L. H. Jr. (1977). Tactual distinctive feature analysis: Training blind students in shape recognition and in locating shapes on a map.Journal of Special Education,11, 336–346.
Berthoz, A. (1991). Reference frames for the perception and control of movement. In J. Paillard (Ed.),Brain and space (pp. 81–111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bornstein, M. H., Ferdinandson, K., &Gross, C. G. (1981). Perception of symmetry in infancy.Developmental Psychology,17, 82–86.
Bornstein, M. H., &Krinsky, S. J. (1985). Perception of symmetry in infancy: The salience of vertical symmetry and the perception of pattern wholes.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,39, 1–19.
Bruce, V., &Green, P. (1990).Visual perception, physiology and ecology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Corballis, M. C., &Roldan, C. E. (1975). Detection of symmetry as a function of angular orientation.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,1, 221–230.
Davidson, P. W. (1972). The role of exploratory activity in haptic perception: Some issues, data and hypotheses.Research Bulletin, American Foundation for the Blind,24, 21 -28.
Davidson, P. W., Abbott, S., &Gershenfeld, J. (1974). Influence of exploration time on haptic and visual matching of complex shape.Perception & Psychophysics,15, 539–543.
Fisher, C. B., &Bornstein, M. H. (1982). Identification of symmetry: Effects of stimulus orientation and head position.Perception & Psychophysics,32, 443–448.
Fisher, C. B., Ferdinandson, K., &Bornstein, M. (1981). The role of symmetry in infant form discrimination.Child Development,52, 457–462.
Foulke, E., &Warm, J. S. (1967). Effects of complexity and redundancy on the tactual recognition of metric figures.Perceptual & Motor Skills,25, 177–187.
Howard, I. P., &Rogers, B. J. (1995).Binocular vision andstereopsis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Howard, I. P., &Templeton, W. B. (1966).Human spatial orientation. New York: Wiley.
Julesz, B. (1971).Foundations of cyclopeanperception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Katz, D. (1925).Der Aufbau der Tastwelt [The construction of the world of touch]. Leipzig: Barth.
Katz, D. (1989).The world of touch (L. E. Krueger, Trans.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Krueger, L. E. (1982). Tactual perception in historical perspective: David Katz’s world of touch. In W. Schiff & E. Foulke (Eds.),Tactual perception: A source book (pp. 1–54). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lappin, J. S., &Foulke, E. (1973). Expanding the tactual field of view.Perception & Psychophysics,14, 237–241.
Lederman, S. J., &Kinch, D. H. (1979). Texture in tactual maps and graphics for the visually handicapped.Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness,73, 217–221.
Locher, P. [J.], Cavegn, D., Groner, M., Müller, P. U., d’Ydewalle, G., &Groner, R. (1993). The effects of stimulus symmetry and task requirements on scanning patterns. In G. d’Ydewalle & J. Van Rensbergen (Eds.),Perception and cognition (pp. 59–69). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Locher, P. J., &Nodine, C. F. (1973). Influence of stimulus symmetry on visual scanning patterns.Perception & Psychophysics,13, 408–412.
Locher, P. J., &Simmons, R. W. (1978). Influence of stimulus symmetry and complexity upon haptic scanning strategies during detection, learning, and recognition tasks.Perception & Psychophysics,23, 110–116.
Locher, P. J., &Wagemans, J. (1993). Effects of element type and spatial grouping on symmetry detection.Perception,22, 565–587.
Loomis, J. M. (1981). On the tangibility of letters and braille.Perception & Psychophysics,29, 37–46.
Loomis, J. M. (1993). Counterexample to the hypothesis of functional similarity between tactile and visual pattern perception.Perception & Psychophysics,54, 179–184.
Loomis, J. M., Klatzky, R. L., &Lederman, S. J. (1991). Similarity of tactual and visual picture recognition with limited field of view.Perception,20, 167–177.
Mach, E. (1897).Analysis of the sensations. Chicago: Open Court.
Marr, D. (1982).Vision: A computational investigation into the human representation and processing of visual information. San Francisco: Freeman.
Millar, S. (1978). Aspects of memory for information from touch and movement. In G. Gordon (Ed.),Active touch: The mechanism of recognition of objects by manipulation: A multi-disciplinary approach (pp. 215–227). Oxford: Pergamon.
Millar, S. (1981a). Crossmodal and intersensory perception and the blind. In R. D. Walk & H. L. Pick, Jr. (Eds.),Intersensory perception and sensory integration (pp. 281–314). New York: Plenum.
Millar, S. (1981b). Self-referent and movement cues in coding spatial location by blind and sighted children.Perception,10, 255–264.
Millar, S. (1985). Movement cues and body orientation in recall of spatial locations of blind and sighted children.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,37A, 257–278.
Millar, S. (1991). A reversed lag in the recognition and production of tactual drawings: Theoretical implications for haptic coding. In M. A. Heller & W. Schiff (Eds.),The psychology of touch (pp. 301–325). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Millar, S. (1994).Understanding and representing space: Theory and evidence from studies with blind and sighted children. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Millar, S. (1997).Reading by touch. London: Routledge.
Munsinger, H., &Forsman, R. (1966). Symmetry, development and tachistoscopic recognition.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,3, 168–176.
Paillard, J. (1991). Motor and representational framing of space. In J. Paillard (Ed.),Brain and space (p. 163–182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Palmer, S. E. (1989). Reference frames in the perception of shape and orientation. In B. E. Shepp & S. Ballesteros (Eds.),Object perception: Structure and process (pp. 121–163). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Palmer, S. E. (1991). Goodness, Gestalt, groups, and Garner: Local symmetry subgroups as a theory of figurai goodness. In G. R. Lockhead & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.),The perception of structure (pp. 23–39). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Palmer, S. E., &Hemenway, K. (1978). Orientation and symmetry.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Perception & Performance,4, 691–702.
Pashler, H. (1990). Coordinate frame for symmetry detection and object recognition.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Perception & Performance,16, 150–163.
Rock, I. (1983).The logic of perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Royer, F. L. (1981). Detection of symmetry.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,7, 1186–1210.
Schiff, W., Kaufer, L., &Mosak, S. (1966). Informative tactile stimuli in the perception of direction.Perceptual & Motor Skills,23, 1315–1335.
Simmons, R., &Locher, P. (1979). Role of extended perceptual experience upon haptic perception of nonrepresentation shapes.Perceptual & Motor Skills,48, 987–991.
Van Der Helm, P. A., &Leeuwenberg, E. L.-J. (1996). Goodness of visual regularities: A nontransformational approach.Psychological Review,103, 429–456.
Wagemans, J. (1995). Detection of visual symmetries.Spatial Vision,9, 9–32.
Wagemans, J., Van Gool, L., &d’Ydewalle, G. (1992). Orientation effects and component processes in symmetry detection.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,44A, 475–508.
Walk, R. D. (1965). Tactual and visual learning of forms differing in degrees of symmetry.Psychonomic Science,2, 93–94.
Warm, J. S., &Foulke, E. (1968). Effects of orientation and redundancy on tactual perception of form.Perceptual & Motor Skills,21, 83–89.
The research was also supported in part by research Grants DGICYT PB90-0003 and DGICYT PB94-0393 to S.B. and a UNED Graduate Fellowship to J.M.R. It was also supported in part by a research grant to S.M. from the British organization Blindness: Research for Learning, Work and Leisure, which is gratefully acknowledged. We thank D. Ortega for scoring the finger movements.
About this article
Cite this article
Ballesteros, S., Millar, S. & Reales, J.M. Symmetry in haptic and in visual shape perception. Perception & Psychophysics 60, 389–404 (1998). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206862
- Bilateral Symmetry
- Open Shape
- Body Midline
- Closed Shape
- Symmetry Effect