Roughness perception across the hands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


It has previously been shown that the perceived roughness of a surface touched by one digit is influenced by the roughness of a different surface touched simultaneously by another digit on the same hand. The present study was designed to examine whether this is the case when surfaces of varying roughness are touched using digits on separate hands. Participants touched pairs of sandpaper surfaces, in sequence, using the same digit, and identified which of the two was rougher. Roughness discrimination was measured in the presence of distractor surfaces touched simultaneously with the target surface, but using a different digit either on the same or on the other hand. The overall perception of roughness of the attended surfaces was better on the left than on the right hand. Perceived roughness also varied systematically with the roughness of the distractor surfaces. Attended surfaces were more likely to be perceived as smoother when they were paired with smooth rather than rough distractors. Likewise, attended surfaces tended to be perceived as rougher with rough distractors. This pattern of results occurred whether the attended and distractor digits were on the same hand or different hands. These data confirm that it is difficult to restrict tactile attention for roughness to a single digit and show that this difficulty extends to restricting attention to a single hand. Furthermore, the effect of a stimulus at an unattended body location was not simply to impair perception in general, but to bias it in the roughness direction of the distractor surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-17
Number of pages12
JournalAttention, perception & psychophysics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention/physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological/physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Masking/physiology
  • Thumb/physiology
  • Touch/physiology
  • Touch Perception/physiology
  • Young Adult


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