Grouping by Proximity in Haptic Contour Detection

Krista E. Overvliet, Ralf Th Krampe, Johan Wagemans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We investigated the applicability of the Gestalt principle of perceptual grouping by proximity in the haptic modality. To do so, we investigated the influence of element proximity on haptic contour detection. In the course of four sessions ten participants performed a haptic contour detection task in which they freely explored a haptic random dot display that contained a contour in 50% of the trials. A contour was defined by a higher density of elements (raised dots), relative to the background surface. Proximity of the contour elements as well as the average proximity of background elements was systematically varied. We hypothesized that if proximity of contour elements influences haptic contour detection, detection will be more likely when contour elements are in closer proximity. This should be irrespective of the ratio with the proximity of the background elements. Results showed indeed that the closer the contour elements were, the higher the detection rates. Moreover, this was the case independent of the contour/background ratio. We conclude that the Gestalt law of proximity applies to haptic contour detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65412
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2013


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