Vibrotaction and texture perception

M. Hollins, S. J. Bensmaa, E. A. Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Several recent studies support Katz's hypothesis that vibrotaction plays a role in the perception of tactile textures with elements too small and closely spaced to be processed spatially. For example, eliminating vibration by preventing movement of a stimulus surface across the skin compromises psychophysical scaling and discrimination of fine, but not coarse, textures. Fine-texture discrimination is also impaired when vibrotactile channels are desensitized by adaptation. A role for vibrotaction in texture perception is plausible, given the keenness of this submodality: the sensory qualities produced by a sinusoidal vibration uniquely specify its frequency and amplitude, and subjects can distinguish some complex vibrations that differ in waveform but have the same spectral components. Finally, imposed vibration can modify the perceived texture of a haptically-examined surface. Taken together, these lines of evidence support the view that vibrotaction is both necessary and sufficient for the perception of fine tactile textures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 20 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Pacinian
  • Roughness
  • Texture
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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