The Natural Truth: The Contribution of Vision and Touch in the Categorisation of “Naturalness”

  • T. Aisling Whitaker
  • Cristina Simões-Franklin
  • Fiona N. Newell
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5024)


Being able to readily discriminate between natural things and synthetic mimics in our environment is an important ability for many species. Making these judgements relies on the acuity of our different senses. Here, we investigated the relative contribution of visual and tactile cues, alone or in combination, to the categorisation of wood and fabric stimuli as natural or unnatural. For both wood and fabric stimuli we found that natural and unnatural stimuli could be discriminated, although performance varied as a function of modality. Specifically, for the wood stimuli, performance was better when vision and touch were combined, whereas for the fabric stimuli, performance was least accurate when using touch alone, compared to the visual or bimodal conditions, which were quantitatively similar. We concluded that both vision and touch contribute, albeit in qualitatively different ways, to the perception of “naturalness”, and that a combination of these modalities facilitates this perception.


Naturalness Vision Touch Visuotactile Bimodal Texture Wood Fabric 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Aisling Whitaker
    • 1
  • Cristina Simões-Franklin
    • 1
  • Fiona N. Newell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Psychology and Institute of NeuroscienceTrinity College DublinIreland

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