Crossmodal texture perception is illumination-dependent

Karina Kangur, Martin Giesel, Julie Harris, Constanze Hesse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Visually perceived roughness of 3D textures varies with illumination direction. Surfaces appear rougher when the illumination angle is lowered resulting in a lack of roughness constancy. Here we aimed to investigate whether the visual system also relies on illumination-dependent features when judging roughness in a crossmodal matching task or whether it can access illumination-invariant surface features that can also be evaluated by the tactile system. Participants (N = 32) explored an abrasive paper of medium physical roughness either tactually, or visually under two different illumination conditions (top vs oblique angle). Subsequently, they had to judge if a comparison stimulus (varying in physical roughness) matched the previously explored standard. Matching was either performed using the same modality as during exploration (intramodal) or using a different modality (crossmodal). In the intramodal conditions, participants performed equally well independent of the modality or illumination employed. In the crossmodal conditions, participants selected rougher tactile matches after exploring the standard visually under oblique illumination than under top illumination. Conversely, after tactile exploration, they selected smoother visual matches under oblique than under top illumination. These findings confirm that visual roughness perception depends on illumination direction and show, for the first time, that this failure of roughness constancy also transfers to judgements made crossmodally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-91
Number of pages17
JournalMultisensory Research
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Multisensory
  • Visual perception
  • Haptics
  • Surface roughness
  • Constancy


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