RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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The role of visual experience on the representation and updating of novel haptic scenes.

Brain and Cognition 2007 November
We investigated the role of visual experience on the spatial representation and updating of haptic scenes by comparing recognition performance across sighted, congenitally and late blind participants. We first established that spatial updating occurs in sighted individuals to haptic scenes of novel objects. All participants were required to recognise a previously learned haptic scene of novel objects presented across the same or different orientation as learning whilst they either remained in the same position to moved to a new position relative to the scene. Scene rotation incurred a cost in recognition performance in all groups. However, overall haptic scene recognition performance was worse in the congenitally blind group. Moreover, unlike the late blind or sighted groups, the congenitally blind group were unable to compensate for the cost in scene rotation with observer motion. Our results suggest that vision plays an important role in representing and updating spatial information encoded through touch and have important implications for the role of vision in the development of neuronal areas involved in spatial cognition.

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