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The stiffness of the environment with which we come in contact is the local derivative of a force field. The boundary of an elastic field is a singular region where local stiffness is ill-defined. We found that subjects interacting with delayed force fields tend to underestimate stiffness if they do not move across the boundary. In contrast, they tend to overestimate stiffness when they move across the elastic field boundary. We propose a unifying computational model of stiffness perception based on an active process that combines the concurrent operations of a force and of a position-control system.