Hard to put your finger on it: Haptic modality disadvantage in conceptual processing


Recent neuroimaging research has shown that perceptual and conceptual processing share a common, modality-specific neural substrate, while work on modality switching costs shows that they appear to share some of the same attentional mechanisms. In two experiments, we employed a modality detection task that displayed modality-specific object properties (e.g., shrill, warm, crimson) for extremely short display times and asked participants to judge whether each property corresponded to a particular target modality (auditory, gustatory, haptic, olfactory, or visual). Results show that perceptual and conceptual processing share a haptic disadvantage: people need more time to detect expected information regarding the sense of touch than any other modality. These findings support the assertions of embodied views that the conceptual system uses the perceptual system for the purposes of representation and are discussed with reference to differences in endogenous attentional control.

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