Adaptation aftereffects reveal that tactile distance is a basic somatosensory feature

Elena Calzolari, Elena Azañón, Matthew Danvers, Giuseppe Vallar, Matthew R. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stage at which processing of tactile distance occurs is still debated. We addressed this issue by implementing an adaptationaftereffect paradigm with passive touch. We demonstrated the presence of a strong aftereffect, induced by the simultaneous presentation of pairs of tactile stimuli. After adaptation to two different distances, one on each hand, participants systematically perceived a subsequent stimulus delivered to the hand adapted to the smaller distance as being larger. We further investigated the nature of the aftereffects, demonstrating that they are orientation- and skin-region-specific, occur even when just one hand is adapted, do not transfer either contralaterally or across the palm and dorsum, and are defined in a skin-centered, rather than an external, reference frame. These characteristics of tactile distance aftereffects are similar to those of low-level visual aftereffects, supporting the idea that distance perception arises at early stages of tactile processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4555-4560
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 25 2017


  • Adaptation
  • Aftereffects
  • Somatosensory processing
  • Tactile distance
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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