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Tactile distance anisotropy on the feet

Manser-Smith, Kelda, Tamè, Luigi, Longo, Matthew R. (2021) Tactile distance anisotropy on the feet. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 83 (8). pp. 3227-3239. ISSN 1943-3921. (doi:10.3758/s13414-021-02339-5) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:91110)

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Perception of distance between two touches varies with orientation on the hand, with distances aligned with hand width perceived as larger than those aligned with hand length. Similar anisotropies are found on other body parts (e.g., the face), suggesting they may reflect a general feature of tactile organization, but appear absent on other body parts (e.g., the belly). Here, we investigated tactile distance anisotropy on the foot, a body part structurally and embryologically similar to the hand, but with very different patterns of functional usage in humans. In three experiments, we compared the perceived distance between pairs of touches aligned with the medio-lateral and proximal-distal foot axes. On the hairy skin of the foot dorsum, anisotropy was consistently found, with distances aligned with the medio-lateral foot axis perceived as larger than those in the proximo-distal axis. In contrast, on the glabrous skin of the sole, inconsistent results were found across experiments, with no overall evidence for anisotropy. This shows a pattern of anisotropy on the foot broadly similar to the hand, adding to the list of body parts showing tactile distance anisotropy, and providing further evidence that such biases are a general aspect of tactile spatial organization across the body.

Significance: The perception of tactile distance has been widely used to understand the spatial structure of touch. On the hand, anisotropy of tactile distance perception is well-established, with distances oriented across hand width perceived larger than those oriented along hand length. We investigated tactile distance anisotropy on the feet, a body part structurally, genetically, and developmentally homologous to hands, but with strikingly different patterns of functional usage. We report highly similar patterns of anisotropy on the hairy skin of the hand dorsum and foot dorsum. This suggests that anisotropy arises from the general organization of touch across the body.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3758/s13414-021-02339-5
Uncontrolled keywords: Touch, hands, feet
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Luigi Tame
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2021 08:42 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2021 10:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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