This series of experiments tested the assimilation and efficacy of tactile messages that were created based on five common military arm and hand signals. We compared the response times and accuracy rates for these tactile representations against responses to equivalent visual representations of the same messages. Experimentally, such messages were displayed in either tactile or visual forms alone, or using both modalities in combination. There was a performance benefit for concurrent message presentations, which showed superior response times and improved accuracy rates when compared with individual presentations in either modality alone. Such improvement was due largely to a reduction in premotor response time. These improvements occurred equally in military and nonmilitary samples. Potential reasons for this multimodal facilitation are discussed. On a practical level, these results confirm the utility of tactile messaging to augment visual messaging, especially in challenging and stressful environments where visual messaging is not feasible or effective.

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