Peripheral neuropathy and object length perception by effortful (dynamic) touch: A case study

Claudia Carello, Jeffrey Kinsella-Shaw, Eric Amazeen, M. T. Turvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The spatial extents of hand-held objects can be perceived nonvisually by wielding them. This ability of effortful or dynamic touch to exploit the mass moments of an object to perceive its length was evaluated with a 40-years old right-handed woman with surgically treated Arnold-Chiari Type 1 Malformation and cervical syrinx. At the time of the experiment she presented with loss of discriminative touch in the left arm but no comparable sensory deficits in the right arm or the lower extremities. She could neither identify objects in her left hand nor tell that they were in the hand while manipulating them. She could, however, grasp an object tightly and wield it on request. In the experiment she wielded weighted rods of 45, 60, and 80 cm length about the wrist. There were two main results. First, her nonvisual perception of rod length by the insensate left arm scaled systematically with rod moment of inertia. The scaling matched that of the intact right arm and the nondominant arm of haptically unimpaired controls tested with rods of similar dimensions. Second, her right arm was superior in accuracy and reliability than her insensate left arm and was equal to or better than the dominant arm of the control group on key measures of nonvisual length perception. The first result was evaluated in respect to the notions of numb touch and differences in the neural bases of discriminative and effortful touch. The second result was discussed in terms of contralateral cortical enhancement by deafferentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-163
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 25 2006


  • Dynamic touch
  • Handedness
  • Haptic perception
  • Peripheral neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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