Training haptic stiffness discrimination: Time course of learning with or without visual information and knowledge of results

Kinneret Teodorescu, Sylvain Bouchigny, Maria Korman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In this study, we explored the time course of haptic stiffness discrimination learning and how it was affected by two experimental factors, the addition of visual information and/or knowledge of results (KR) during training. Background: Stiffness perception may integrate both haptic and visual modalities. However, in many tasks, the visual field is typically occluded, forcing stiffness perception to be dependent exclusively on haptic information. No studies to date addressed the time course of haptic stiffness perceptual learning. Method: Using a virtual environment (VE) haptic interface and a two-alternative forced-choice discrimination task, the haptic stiffness discrimination ability of 48 participants was tested across 2 days. Each day included two haptic test blocks separated by a training block. Additional visual information and/or KR were manipulated between participants during training blocks. Results: Practice repetitions alone induced significant improvement in haptic stiffness discrimination. Between days, accuracy was slightly improved, but decision time performance was deteriorated. The addition of visual information and/or KR had only temporary effects on decision time, without affecting the time course of haptic discrimination learning. Conclusion: Learning in haptic stiffness discrimination appears to evolve through at least two distinctive phases: A single training session resulted in both immediate and latent learning. This learning was not affected by the training manipulations inspected. Application: Training skills in VE in spaced sessions can be beneficial for tasks in which haptic perception is critical, such as surgery procedures, when the visual field is occluded. However, training protocols for such tasks should account for low impact of multisensory information and KR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-840
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the SKILLS Integrated Project (IST-FP6 No. #035005; ) funded by the European Commission.


  • haptic interfaces
  • human performance
  • learning
  • stiffness perception
  • training
  • virtual environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Applied Psychology


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