The roles of visual and haptic experience in different aspects of haptic processing of objects in peripersonal space are examined. In three trials, early-blind, late-blind, and blindfolded-sighted individuals had to match ten shapes haptically to the cut-outs in a board as fast as possible. Both blind groups were much faster than the sighted in all three trials. All three groups improved considerably from trial to trial. In particular, the sighted group showed a strong improvement from the first to the second trial. While superiority of the blind remained for speeded matching after rotation of the stimulus frame, coordinate positional-memory scores in a non-speeded free-recall trial showed no significant differences between the groups. Moreover, when assessed with a verbal response, categorical spatial-memory appeared strongest in the late-blind group. The role of haptic and visual experience thus appears to depend on the task aspect tested.
- EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP6/12959