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Percept Psychophys. 2008 Oct;70(7):1197-206. doi: 10.3758/PP.70.7.1197.

Haptic orientation perception benefits from visual experience: evidence from early-blind, late-blind, and sighted people.

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  • 1Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Early-blind, late-blind, and blindfolded sighted participants were presented with two haptic allocentric spatial tasks: a parallel-setting task, in an immediate and a 10-sec delay condition, and a task in which the orientation of a single bar was judged verbally. With respect to deviation size, the data suggest that mental visual processing filled a beneficial role in both tasks. In the parallel-setting task, the early blind performed more variably and showed no improvement with delay, whereas the late blind did improve, but less than the sighted did. In the verbal judgment task, both early- and late-blind participants displayed larger deviations than the sighted controls. Differences between the groups were absent or much weaker with respect to the haptic oblique effect, a finding that reinforces the view that this effect is not of visual origin. The role of visual processing mechanisms and visual experience in haptic spatial tasks is discussed.

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