Relative finger position influences whether you can localize tactile stimuli.
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To investigate whether the relative positions of the fingers influence tactile localization, participants were asked to localize tactile stimuli applied to their fingertips. We measured the location and rate of errors for three finger configurations: fingers stretched out and together so that they are touching each other, fingers stretched out and spread apart maximally and fingers stretched out with the two hands on top of each other so that the fingers are interwoven. When the fingers contact each other, it is likely that the error rate to the adjacent fingers will be higher than when the fingers are spread apart. In particular, we reasoned that localization would probably improve when the fingers are spread. We aimed at assessing whether such adjacency was measured in external coordinates (taking proprioception into account) or on the body (in skin coordinates). The results confirmed that the error rate was lower when the fingers were spread. However, there was no decrease in error rate to neighbouring fingertips in the fingers spread condition in comparison with the fingers together condition. In an additional experiment, we showed that the lower error rate when the fingers were spread was not related to the continuous tactile input from the neighbouring fingers when the fingers were together. The current results suggest that information from proprioception is taken into account in perceiving the location of a stimulus on one of the fingertips.