The interaction between motion and texture in the sense of touch

Colleen P. Ryan, Gemma C. Bettelani, Simone Ciotti, Cesare Parise, Alessandro Moscatelli, Matteo Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Besides providing information on elementary properties of objects, like texture, roughness, and softness, the sense of touch is also important in building a representation of object movement and the movement of our hands. Neural and behavioral studies shed light on the mechanisms and limits of our sense of touch in the perception of texture and motion, and of its role in the control of movement of our hands. The interplay between the geometrical and mechanical properties of the touched objects, such as shape and texture, the movement of the hand exploring the object, and the motion felt by touch, will be discussed in this article. Interestingly, the interaction between motion and textures can generate perceptual illusions in touch. For example, the orientation and the spacing of the texture elements on a static surface induces the illusion of surface motion when we move our hand on it or can elicit the perception of a curved trajectory during sliding, straight hand movements. In this work we present a multiperspective view that encompasses both the perceptual and the motor aspects, as well as the response of peripheral and central nerve structures, to analyze and better understand the complex mechanisms underpinning the tactile representation of texture and motion. Such a better understanding of the spatiotemporal features of the tactile stimulus can reveal novel transdisciplinary applications in neuroscience and haptics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1390
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Illusions and models for motion encoding
  • Neurophysiology of touch
  • Tactile motion
  • Texture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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