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      Cold and heavy: grasping the temperature–weight illusion

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          Abstract

          The apparent heaviness of weights placed on the skin depends on their temperature. We studied the effects of such a temperature–weight illusion (TWI) on perception and action in 21 healthy volunteers. Cold (18 °C), thermal-neutral (32 °C, skin temperature) and warm (41 °C) test objects were placed onto the palm of the non-dominant hand. Their veridical mass was 350 g (light) or 700 g (heavy). Perception of heaviness was assessed with two psychophysical experiments (magnitude estimation, cross modal matching). Cold heavy objects felt about 20% heavier than thermal-neutral objects of the same mass, shape and material. In a subsequent grip-lift experiment, the test objects were grasped with a precision grip of the dominant hand and lifted off the palm of the non-dominant hand. The grip and lift forces exerted by the fingertips were recorded. The temperature of the objects had significant effects (ANOVA, p < 0.05) on the peak grip and lift forces and on the peak grip force rate (i.e., the initial force incline). The peak grip force was about 10% higher when cold heavy objects were grasped and lifted, compared to lifts of otherwise identical thermal-neutral objects. The TWI was less pronounced when light objects or warm objects were handled. In conclusion, cooling of an object increases its apparent heaviness (perception) and influences scaling of the fingertip forces during grasping and lifting (action).

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          The online version of this article (10.1007/s00221-020-05794-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Thermoreceptors and thermosensitive afferents.

          Cutaneous thermosensation plays an important role in thermal regulation and detection of potentially harmful thermal stimuli. Multiple classes of primary afferents are responsive to thermal stimuli. Afferent nerve fibers mediating the sensation of non-painful warmth or cold seem adapted to convey thermal information over a particular temperature range. In contrast, nociceptive afferents are often activated by both, painful cold and heat stimuli. The transduction mechanisms engaged by thermal stimuli have only recently been discovered. Transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels that can be activated by temperatures over specific ranges potentially provide the molecular basis for thermosensation. However, non-TRP mechanisms are also likely to contribute to the transduction of thermal stimuli. This review summarizes findings regarding the transduction proteins and the primary afferents activated by innocuous and noxious cold and heat.
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            Living in a material world: how visual cues to material properties affect the way that we lift objects and perceive their weight.

            The visual properties of an object provide many cues as to the tensile strength, compliance, and density of the material from which it is made. However, it is not well understood how these implicit associations affect our perceptions of these properties and how they determine the initial forces that are applied when an object is picked up. Here we examine the effects of these cues on such forces by using the classic "material-weight illusion" (MWI). Grip and load forces were measured in three experiments as participants lifted cubes made from metal, wood, and expanded polystyrene. These cubes were adjusted to have a different mass than would be expected for a particular material. For the initial lifts, the forces were scaled to the expected weight of each object, such that the metal block was gripped and lifted with more force than the polystyrene one. After a few lifts, however, participants scaled their forces to the actual weight of the blocks, implicitly disregarding the misleading visual cues to each block's composition (experiments 1 and 2). Despite this rapid rescaling, participants experienced a robust MWI throughout the duration of the experiments. In fact, the grip and load forces never matched the perception of weight until the differences in the visual surface properties between the blocks were removed (experiment 3). These findings are discussed in relation to recent debates about the underlying causes of weight-based illusions and the effect of top-down visual cues on perception and action.
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              Memory representations underlying motor commands used during manipulation of common and novel objects.

              1. While subjects lifted a variety of commonly handled objects of different shapes, weights, and densities, the isometric vertical lifting force opposing the object's weight was recorded from an analog weight scale, which was instrumented with high-stiffness strain gauge transducers. 2. The force output was scaled differently for the various objects from the first lift, before sensory information related to the object's weight was available. The force output was successfully specified from information in memory related to the weight of common objects, because only small changes in the force-rate profiles occurred across 10 consecutive lifts. This information was retrieved during a process related to visual identification of the target object. 3. The amount of practice necessary to appropriately scale the vertical lifting and grip (pinch) force was also studied when novel objects (equipped with force transducers at the grip surfaces) of different densities were encountered. The mass of a test object that subjects had not seen previously was adjusted to either 300 or 1,000 g by inserting an appropriate mass in the object's base without altering its appearance. This resulted in either a density that was in the range of most common objects (1.2 kg/l) or a density that was unusually high (4.0 kg/l). 4. Low vertical-lifting and grip-force rates were used initially with the high-density object, as if a lighter object had been expected. However, within the first few trials, the duration of the loading phase (period of isometric force increase before lift-off) was reduced by nearly 50% and the employed force-rate profiles were targeted for the weight of the object.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                kuhtz@physiologie.uni-kiel.de
                Journal
                Exp Brain Res
                Exp Brain Res
                Experimental Brain Research
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                0014-4819
                1432-1106
                27 March 2020
                27 March 2020
                2020
                : 238
                : 5
                : 1107-1117
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.9764.c, ISNI 0000 0001 2153 9986, Institute of Physiology, , Christian-Albrechts-University, ; Hermann-Rodewald-Str. 5, 24118 Kiel, Germany
                Author notes

                Communicated by Melvyn A. Goodale.

                Article
                5794
                10.1007/s00221-020-05794-y
                7237526
                32221641
                804812a2-4c46-4860-b721-1f9943c1fcb3
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                Research Article
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                © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

                Neurosciences

                temperature–weight illusion, object lifting, weight perception, grip force

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