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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00372

Temporal structure in haptic signalling under a cooperative task

  • 1University of Reading, United Kingdom
  • 2Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan

Haptic communication between humans plays an important role in society. Although this form of communication is ubiquitous at all levels of society and of human development, little is known about how synchronized coordination of motion between two persons would lead to higher-order cognitive functions used in communication. In this study, we developed a novel experimental paradigm of a coin-collecting task in which participants used their hands to control the rod to collect the coins on the screen. We characterized the haptic interactions between the paired participants, while paired participants were taking part in a cooperative task. The individual participants first completed this task on their own, and then, with the partner randomly assigned for the cooperative task.
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Single participant experiments were used as a baseline to compare results of the paired participants. Forces applied to the rod were translated to four possible haptic states which encode the combination of the haptic interactions.
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As a next step, pairs of consecutive haptic states were then combined into 16 possible haptic signals which were classified in terms of their temporal patterns using a Tsallis q-exponential function.
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For paired participants, 80\% of the haptic signals could be fit by the Tsallis q-exponential. On the other hand, only 30\% of the signals found in the single participant trials could be fit by the Tsallis q-exponential. This shows a clear difference in the temporal structures of haptic signals when participants are interacting with each other and when they are not.
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We also found a large difference in the number of haptic signals used by paired participants and singles. Single participants only used 1/4 of the possible haptic signals. Pairs on the other hand, used more than half of the possible signals.
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These results suggest that temporal structures present in haptic communication could be the linked to the emergence of language at an evolutionary level.

Keywords: haptic (tactile) perception, proto-language, Joint Action, Cooperative task, Tsalli’s entropy

Received: 22 May 2019; Accepted: 02 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Thorne, Honisch, Kondo, Nasuto and Hayashi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Nicolas Thorne, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom, nthornet@protonmail.com