Low-Amplitude Textures Explored with the Bare Finger: Roughness Judgments Follow an Inverted U-Shaped Function of Texture Period Modified by Texture Type
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Roughness is probably the most salient dimension pertaining to the perception of textures by touch and has been widely investigated. There is a controversy on how roughness relates to the texture’s spatial period and which factors influence this relation. Here, roughness during bare finger exploration of coarse textures is studied for different types of textures with elements of low height (0.3 mm). Participants were presented with square-wave gratings that were defined along one dimension and sine-wave gratings that were defined along one or two dimensions. Textures of each type varied in their spatial half period between 0.25 and 5.17 mm. Participants explored the textures by a lateral movement or a stationary finger contact. In all conditions judged roughness increased with spatial period up to a peak roughness and then decreased again. The exact function depended on the texture type, but hardly on exploration mode. We conclude that roughness is an inverted U-shaped function of texture period, if the textures are of low amplitude. The effects are explained by the interplay of two components contributing to the spatial code to roughness: variability in skin deformation due to the finger’s intrusion into the texture, which increases with the textures’ period up to a maximum (when the skin contacts the texture’s ground), and variability associated with the spatial frequency of the deformation, which decreases with spatial period.
KeywordsRoughness Texture Perception Bare finger
I thank Alexandra Lezkan and Anna Metzger for constructing the stimuli and Alena Zirbes for conducting the experiment. This research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG; SFB/TRR135/1, A05).
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