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Independence of perceptual and sensorimotor predictions in the size–weight illusion

Nature Neuroscience volume 3, pages 737741 (2000) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The smaller of two equally weighted objects is judged to be heavier when lifted. Here we disproved a leading hypothesis that this size–weight illusion is caused by a mismatch between predicted and actual sensory feedback. We showed that when subjects repeatedly lifted equally heavy large and small objects in alternation, they learned to scale their fingertip forces precisely for the true object weights and thus exhibited accurate sensorimotor prediction. The size–weight illusion nevertheless persisted, suggesting that the illusion can be caused by high-level cognitive and perceptual factors and indicating that the sensorimotor system can operate independently of the cognitive/perceptual system.

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Acknowledgements

We thank R. Johansson and S. Lederman for comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Human Frontiers Science Program.

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  1. Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

    • J. Randall Flanagan
    •  & Michael A. Beltzner

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Correspondence to J. Randall Flanagan.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/76701