Central mechanisms of tactile shape perception

Steven Hsiao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Studies show that while the cortical mechanisms of two-dimensional (2D) form and motion processing are similar in touch and vision, the mechanisms of three-dimensional (3D) shape processing are different. 2D form and motion are processed in areas 3b and 1 of SI cortex by neurons with receptive fields (RFs) composed of excitatory and inhibitory subregions. 3D shape is processed in area 2 and SII and relies on the integration of cutaneous and proprioceptive inputs. The RFs of SII neurons vary in size and shape with heterogeneous structures consisting of orientation-tuned fingerpads mixed with untuned excitatory or inhibitory fingerpads. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the neurons to cutaneous inputs changes with hand conformation. We hypothesize that these RFs are the kernels underlying tactile object recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-424
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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