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Jason Chow, Thomas Palmeri, Isabel Gauthier; Tactile object recognition performance on graspable objects, but not texture-like objects, relates to visual object recognition ability. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):188. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.188.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent work suggests a domain-general visual object recognition (OR) ability that is relevant across different tasks and various object categories, both novel and familiar (Richler et al., 2019; Gauthier et al., VSS2020). This domain-general OR ability was found to be independent from general intelligence or working memory capacity but whether it is specific to visual processing or generalizes to object processing from touch is unknown. Tactile exploration of objects can extract features similar to those useful for visual OR like global shape and object texture using hand enclosure and lateral finger movements, respectively (Lederman and Klatzky, 1987). Here, we asked if tactile OR performance relates to visual OR ability. Participants performed two visual tasks with novel objects. In the Novel Object Memory Tasks (NOMT) participants memorized six exemplars of Ziggerins, then performed a three-alternate forced-choice recognition task (Richler, Wilmer, & Gauthier, 2017). In a Matching task, participants judged whether two Sheinbugs presented serially were the same or different. Participants also performed a tactile NOMT using finger-sized texture-like buttons mounted on cards and a Matching task with palm-sized graspable spaceships mounted on boards. We estimated general intelligence using Raven’s matrices and partial out intelligence in our correlational analyses. Visual OR ability was estimated as the composite of the two visual OR tasks, which were correlated as expected (r49=.34, BF10=3.68). In contrast, we found evidence supporting no relationship between the two tactile OR tasks (r49=.03, BF10=.17). Interestingly, the tactile NOMT did not correlate with visual OR (r49=.03, BF10=.17), while the tactile Matching task did (r49=.34, BF10=3.66). These results suggest that domain general OR ability may not be a strictly visual ability but may also apply to tactile processing of graspable 3D shapes. Conversely, recognizing smaller objects with fingertips, more akin to 2D textures, could tap into a different ability.
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