Minimal Probes for Texture Perception
Pages 5

The use of probes for texture discrimination was investigated by Katz (1925/ 1989), who found that discrimination was impaired by wrapping the probe in absorbent material. The task in the present experiments was inspired by Kesten's (1956) scratch-detection task, in which blindfolded observers attempted to locate extremely narrow scratches in various surfaces using a haptic tool. In the current experiments, flat strips of tape on manila folders were substituted for scratches, and instead oflocating them, the blindfolded subjects attempted to count them (see Figure 1). Previous research with this task (Burton, 1992) tested various manipulations that alter the rigidity of the probe, such as changing the diameter or length of the probe, or affixing a brush to the end of the probe. All of these variations affected the accuracy of subjects' judgments, but none seemed to render the folders indistinguishable; i.e., subjects consistently ordered the conditions appropriately.