Psychophysical Haptic Measurement of Vertical Perception: Elucidating a Hand Sensory Bias

Min Jung Kim, Jorge Otero-Millan, Jing Tian, Amir Kheradmand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary sensory modality for probing spatial perception can vary among psychophysical paradigms. In the subjective visual vertical (SVV) task, the brain must account for the position of the eye within the orbit to generate an estimate of a visual line orientation, whereas in the subjective haptic vertical (SHV) task, the position of the hand is used to sense the orientation of a haptic bar. Here we investigated whether a hand sensory bias can affect SHV measurement. We measured SHV in 12 subjects (6 left-handed and 6 right-handed) with a forced-choice paradigm using their left and right hands separately. The SHV measurement was less accurate than the SVV measurements (−0.6 ± 0.7) and it was biased in the direction of the hand used in the task but was not affected by handedness; SHV left hand −6.8 ± 2.1° (left-handed −7.9 ± 3.6°, right-handed −5.8 ± 2.5°) and right hand 9.8 ± 1.5° (left-handed 7.4 ± 2.2°, right-handed 12.3 ± 1.8°). SHV measurement with the same hand was also affected by the haptic bar placement on the left or right side versus midline, showing a side effect (left vs midline −2.0 ± 1.3°, right vs midline 3.8 ± 1.7°). Midline SHV measures using the left and right hands were different, confirming a laterality effect (left hand −4.5 ± 1.7°, right hand 6.4 ± 2.0°). These results demonstrate a sensory bias in SHV measurement related to the effects of both hand-in-body (i.e., right vs left hand) and hand-in-space positions. Such modality-specific bias may result in disparity between SHV and SVV measurements, and therefore cannot be generalized to vertical or spatial perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jan 15 2022


  • SHV
  • SVV
  • haptic
  • spatial orientation
  • vertical perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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