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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jun 10;105(23):8130-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800028105. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

The tactile integration of local motion cues is analogous to its visual counterpart.

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Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 338 Krieger Hall, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


The visual and somatosensory systems have been shown to process spatial information similarly. Here we investigate tactile motion processing using stimuli whose perceptual properties have been well established in vision research, namely superimposed gratings (plaids), barber poles, and bar fields. In both modalities, information about stimulus motion (speed and direction) conveyed by neurons at low levels of sensory processing is ambiguous, a conundrum known as the aperture problem. Our results suggest that the tactile perception of motion, analogous to its visual counterpart, operates in multiple stages: first, the perceived direction of motion is determined by a majority vote from local motion detectors, which are subject to the aperture problem. As in vision, the conflict between the cues from terminators and other local motion cues is gradually resolved over time so that the perceived direction approaches the veridical direction of motion.

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