The brain consistently faces a challenge of whether and how to combine the available information sources to estimate the properties of an object explored by hand. While object perception is an inference process involving multisensory inputs, thermal referral (TR) is an illusion demonstrating how the interaction between thermal and tactile systems can lead to deviations from physical reality-when observers touch three stimulators simultaneously with the middle three fingers of one hand but only the outer two stimulators are heated (or cooled), thermal uniformity is perceived across three fingers. Here, we used TR of warmth to examine the thermal-tactile interaction in object temperature perception. We show that TR is consistent with precision-weighted averaging of thermal sensation across tactile locations. Furthermore, we show that prolonged contact with TR stimulation results in adaptation to the local variations of veridical temperatures instead of the thermal uniformity perceived across three fingers. Our results illuminate the flexibility of processing that underlies thermal-tactile interactions and serve as a basis for thermal display design.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Computer Science Applications