In a previous study, we found the perception of force magnitude to be anisotropic in the horizontal plane. In the current study, we investigated this anisotropy in three dimensional space. In addition, we tested our previous hypothesis that the perceptual anisotropy was directly related to anisotropies in arm dynamics. In experiment 1, static force magnitude perception was studied using a free magnitude estimation paradigm. This experiment revealed a significant and consistent anisotropy in force magnitude perception, with forces exerted perpendicular to the line between hand and shoulder being perceived as 50% larger than forces exerted along this line. In experiment 2, postural arm dynamics were measured using stochastic position perturbations exerted by a haptic device and quantified through system identification. By fitting a mass-damper-spring model to the data, the stiffness, damping and inertia parameters could be characterized in all the directions in which perception was also measured. These results show that none of the arm dynamics parameters were oriented either exactly perpendicular or parallel to the perceptual anisotropy. This means that endpoint stiffness, damping or inertia alone cannot explain the consistent anisotropy in force magnitude perception.
van Beek, F. E., Bergmann Tiest, WM., Mugge, W., & Kappers, A. M. L. (2015). Haptic perception of force magnitude and its relation to postural arm dynamics in 3D. Scientific Reports, 5, 1 - 11. . https://doi.org/10.1038/srep18004