Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Gyroscopes, Haptic Perception, Dynamic Touch, Angular Momentum

Major Advisor

James A. Dixon

Associate Advisor

Claudia Carello

Associate Advisor

Steven J. Harrison

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Haptic touch by wielding exploits a number of physical object properties in supporting perception and action. In particular, moments of an object’s mass influence judgments of its weight, length, and orientation. It has been suggested that these judgments are about something other than the physical dimensions themselves. However, manipulations of force fields in perception-action tasks requires participants to relearn how to manipulate objects or limbs.

The experiments here exploit the properties of a perceptual novelty—the gyroscope—to explore the role of an altered force field in perceptual judgment and its role in learning. Experiment 1 demonstrates that gyroscopic forces bring about greater heaviness ratings, but only if the reactive force supplements that imposed by gravity. Experiment 2 shows that movability judgments change with added gyroscopic spin. However, these effects are not task-specific. Experiment 3 assessed performance for rotational and translational tasks. Performance worsened with increased spin in the rotational task, but not with the translational task. This result was consistent with gyroscope physics but contrasted somewhat with participant judgment. Experiment 4 examined performance of the tasks explicitly. Participants performed a tracking task using a gyroscope device, while moment-to-moment perceptual tuning was analyzed. Results indicate that gyroscopic forces impact the perception-action system in a manner more akin to a change in the force field’s reference frame than in its overall magnitudes. This means that a gyroscope functions more like a haptic prism than as a means of altering properties at the level of the object.