Visual and haptic feedback contribute to tuning and online control during object manipulation

Felix C. Huang, R. Brent Gillespie*, Arthur D. Kuo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The authors employed a virtual environment to investigate how humans use haptic and visual feedback in a simple, rhythmic object-manipulation task. The authors hypothesized that feedback would help participants identify the appropriate resonant frequency and perform online control adjustments. The 1st test was whether sensory feedback is needed at all; the 2nd was whether the motor system combines visual and haptic feedback to improve performance. Task performance was quantified in terms of work performed on the virtual inertia, ability to identify the correct rhythm, and variability of movement. Strict feedforward control was found to be ineffective for this task, even when participants had previous knowledge of the rhythm. Participants (N = 11) performed far better when feedback was available (11 times more work, 2.2 times more precise frequency, 30% less variability; p < .05 for all 3 performance measures). Using sensory feedback, participants were able to rapidly identify 4 different spring-inertia systems without foreknowledge of the corresponding resonant frequencies. They performed over 20% more work with 24% less variability when provided with both visual and haptic feedback than they did with either feedback channel alone (p < .05), providing evidence that they integrated online sensory channels. Whereas feedforward control alone led to poor performance, feedback control led to fast tuning or calibration of control according to the resonant frequency of the object, and to better control of the rhythmic movement itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of motor behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Internal model
  • Manual control
  • Motor adaptation
  • Motor control
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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