Functional organization of the haptic perceptual system: Transfer of attunement and calibration

Date of Completion

January 2007


Psychology, Experimental




A model of the functional organization of perception-action systems was proposed using conceptual tools from group theory. More specifically, an attempt was made to test whether various configurations of perception-action units are organized as functional equivalence classes. The dynamic touch paradigm of perceiving spatial extent by wielding unseen objects was used to investigate the functional organization of the haptic perceptual system. The defining characteristics of equivalence classes (reflexivity, symmetry and transitivity) were empirically assessed using transfer of calibration as a measure of the connection between units. Reflexivity was measured by recalibration of length perception using trained effectors or objects; symmetry was assessed by the amount of calibration transfer of length perception by hand to length perception by foot, and vice versa, and by transfer of calibration from perceived rigid object (e.g., rod) length to perceived non-rigid object (e.g., rope) length, and vice versa; transitivity involved a battery of such tests among three objects: rods, ropes and whips (partially rigid objects). The successes, failures and implications of the group-theoretic model of functional organization were discussed.^