Integration of prior knowledge during haptic exploration depends on information type
When haptically exploring softness, humans use higher peak forces when indenting harder versus softer objects. Here, we investigated the influence of different channels and types of prior knowledge on initial peak forces. Participants explored two stimuli (hard vs. soft) and judged which was softer. In Experiment 1 participants received either ... semantic (the words "hard" and "soft"), visual (video of indentation), or prior information from recurring presentation (blocks of harder or softer pairs only). In a control condition no prior information was given (randomized presentation). In the recurring condition participants used higher initial forces when exploring harder stimuli. No effects were found in control and semantic conditions. With visual prior information, participants used less force for harder objects. We speculate that these findings reflect differences between implicit knowledge induced by recurring presentation and explicit knowledge induced by visual and semantic information. To test this hypothesis, we investigated whether explicit prior information interferes with implicit information in Experiment 2. Two groups of participants discriminated softness of harder or softer stimuli in two conditions (blocked and randomized). The interference group received additional explicit information during the blocked condition; the implicit-only group did not. Implicit prior information was only used for force adaptation when no additional explicit information was given, whereas explicit interfered with movement adaptation. The integration of prior knowledge only seems possible when implicit prior knowledge is induced-not with explicit knowledge.