sensory saltation

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A tactile illusion, discovered in 1972 by the US psychologist Frank A. Geldard (1904–84), that occurs if the forearm or other area of the body is given a light tap, then a second and third tap are delivered in quick succession (about one-tenth of a second apart), the second tap in the same spot as the first and the third a few centimetres away. The effect is that the second tap is felt very distinctly to have occurred at a point somewhere between the first and the third taps. Saltatory areas within which the phenomenon occurs differ in size and shape in different parts of the body, but they never cross the midsagittal plane of the body, and within these areas saltation is experienced even if the area of skin between the taps is anaesthetized, showing that the illusion arises not in the skin but at a higher level of the sensory system. Also called cutaneous rabbit illusion, saltation. [From Latin saltus a leap, from saltare to dance + -ation indicating a process or condition]

Subjects: Psychology.

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