Accurate visuomotor control below the perceptual threshold of size discrimination

Tzvi Ganel*, Erez Freud, Eran Chajut, Daniel Algom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Human resolution for object size is typically determined by psychophysical methods that are based on conscious perception. In contrast, grasping of the same objects might be less conscious. It is suggested that grasping is mediated by mechanisms other than those mediating conscious perception. In this study, we compared the visual resolution for object size of the visuomotor and the perceptual system. Methodology/Principal Findings: In Experiment 1, participants discriminated the size of pairs of objects once through perceptual judgments and once by grasping movements toward the objects. Notably, the actual size differences were set below the Just Noticeable Difference (JND). We found that grasping trajectories reflected the actual size differences between the objects regardless of the JND. This pattern was observed even in trials in which the perceptual judgments were erroneous. The results of an additional control experiment showed that these findings were not confounded by task demands. Participants were not aware, therefore, that their size discrimination via grasp was veridical. Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that human resolution is not fully tapped by perceptually determined thresholds. Grasping likely exhibits greater resolving power than people usually realize.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36253
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2012


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