Binding in Haptics: Integration of ‘‘What’’ and ‘‘Where’’ Information in Working Memory for Active Touch
Bergmann Tiest, W.M.
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Information about the identity and the location of perceptual objects can be automatically integrated in perception and working memory (WM). Contrasting results in visual and auditory WM studies indicate that the characteristics of feature-to- location binding can vary according to the sensory modality of the input. The present study provides first evidence of binding between ‘‘what’’ and ‘‘where’’ information in WM for haptic stimuli. In an old-new recognition task, blindfolded participants were presented in their peripersonal space with sequences of three haptic stimuli varying in texture and location. They were then required to judge if a single probe stimulus was previously included in the sequence. Recall was measured both in a condition in which both texture and location were relevant for the task (Experiment 1) and in two conditions where only one feature had to be recalled (Experiment 2). Results showed that when both features were task- relevant, even if the association of location and texture was neither necessary nor required to perform the task, participants exhibited a recall advantage in conditions in which the location and the texture of the target probe was kept unaltered between encoding and recall. By contrast, when only one feature was task-relevant, the concurrent feature did not influence the recall of the target feature. We conclude that attention to feature binding is not necessary for the emergence of feature integration in haptic WM. For binding to take place, however, it is necessary to encode and maintain in memory both the identity and the location of items.