Bodywide fluctuations support manual exploration: Fractal fluctuations in posture predict perception of heaviness and length via effortful touch by the hand

Madhur Mangalam, Ryan Chen, Terrence R. McHugh, Tarkeshwar Singh, Damian G. Kelty-Stephen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The human haptic perceptual system respects a bodywide organization that responds to local stimulation through full-bodied coordination of nested tensions and compressions across multiple nonoverlapping scales. Under such an organization, the suprapostural task of manually hefting objects to perceive their heaviness and length should depend on roots extending into the postural control for maintaining upright balance on the ground surface. Postural sway of the whole body should thus carry signatures predicting what the hand can extract by hefting an object. We found that fractal fluctuations in Euclidean displacement in the participants' center of pressure (CoP) contributed to perceptual judgments by moderating how the participants' hand picked up the informational variable of the moment of inertia. The role of fractality in CoP displacement in supporting heaviness and length judgments increased across trials, indicating that the participants progressively implicate their fractal scaling in their perception of heaviness and length. Traditionally, we had to measure fractality in hand movements to predict perceptual judgments by manual hefting. However, our findings suggest that we can observe what is happening at hand in the relatively distant-from-hand measure of CoP. Our findings reveal the complex relationship through which posture supports manual exploration, entailing perception of the intended properties of hefted objects (heaviness or length) putatively through the redistribution of forces throughout the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102543
JournalHuman Movement Science
Volume69
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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