Integration of vision and haptics during tool use.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • UCL
  • Bangor University


When integrating signals from vision and haptics the brain must solve a “correspondence problem” so that it only combines information referring to the same object. An invariant spatial rule could be used when grasping with the hand: here the two signals should only be integrated when the estimate of hand and object position coincide. Tools complicate this relationship, however, because visual information about the object, and the location of the hand, are separated spatially. We show that when a simple tool is used to estimate size, the brain integrates visual and haptic information in a near-optimal fashion, even with a large spatial offset between the signals. Moreover, we show that an offset between the tool-tip and the object results in similar reductions in cross-modal integration as when the felt and seen positions of an object are offset in normal grasping. This suggests that during tool use the haptic signal is treated as coming from the tool-tip, not the hand. The brain therefore appears to combine visual and haptic information, not based on the spatial proximity of sensory stimuli, but based on the proximity of the distal causes of stimuli, taking into account the dynamics and geometry of tools.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • cross-modal integration, sensory integration, tool use, haptics, vision, optimality