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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 26;6:21866. doi: 10.1038/srep21866.

Touch influences perceived gloss.

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Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, ENGLAND.


Identifying an object's material properties supports recognition and action planning: we grasp objects according to how heavy, hard or slippery we expect them to be. Visual cues to material qualities such as gloss have recently received attention, but how they interact with haptic (touch) information has been largely overlooked. Here, we show that touch modulates gloss perception: objects that feel slippery are perceived as glossier (more shiny).Participants explored virtual objects that varied in look and feel. A discrimination paradigm (Experiment 1) revealed that observers integrate visual gloss with haptic information. Observers could easily detect an increase in glossiness when it was paired with a decrease in friction. In contrast, increased glossiness coupled with decreased slipperiness produced a small perceptual change: the visual and haptic changes counteracted each other. Subjective ratings (Experiment 2) reflected a similar interaction - slippery objects were rated as glossier and vice versa. The sensory system treats visual gloss and haptic friction as correlated cues to surface material. Although friction is not a perfect predictor of gloss, the visual system appears to know and use a probabilistic relationship between these variables to bias perception - a sensible strategy given the ambiguity of visual clues to gloss.

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