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When assessing the roughness of textures, no single sensory modality universally dominates perception. Instead, the task and stimuli critically determine to what extent a given sense is favoured. We report a visuotactile texture assessment experiment, consisting of the speeded discrimination of roughened textile samples, in the presence of a congruent or an incongruent textile distractor. When discriminating between samples, visual assessment of textile roughness was modulated by incongruous tactile distractors, but not vice versa, even when visual distractors were more discriminable than tactile targets. This asymmetry in interference suggests that 'modality appropriateness' is not purely a function of the discriminative ability of a sensory modality, but that ecological validity may play a role in determining the more 'appropriate' sense for a given task. Results are discussed in relation to the claim that the assessment of textiles is more ecologically suited to touch than to vision.

Original publication




Journal article


Exp Brain Res

Publication Date





201 - 207


Adult, Analysis of Variance, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Photic Stimulation, Physical Stimulation, Reaction Time, Touch