Coincidence avoidance principle in surface haptic interpretation

Steven G. Manuel, Roberta L. Klatzky, Michael A. Peshkin, James Edward Colgate*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


When multiple fingertips experience force sensations, how does the brain interpret the combined sensation? In particular, under what conditions are the sensations perceived as separate or, alternatively, as an integrated whole? In this work, we used a custom force-feedback device to display force signals to two fingertips (index finger and thumb) as they traveled along collinear paths. Each finger experienced a pattern of forces that, taken individually, produced illusory virtual bumps, and subjects reported whether they felt zero, one, or two bumps. We varied the spatial separation between these bump-like force-feedback regions, from being much greater than the finger span to nearly exactly the finger span. When the bump spacing was the same as the finger span, subjects tended to report only one bump. We found that the results are consistent with a quantitative model of perception in which the brain selects a structural interpretation of force signals that relies on minimizing coincidence stemming from accidental alignments between fingertips and inferred surface structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2605-2610
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 24 2015


  • Bumps |
  • Kinesthetic
  • Perception |
  • Surface haptic |
  • Touch |

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Coincidence avoidance principle in surface haptic interpretation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this