Heller M A, 1989, "Picture and pattern perception in the sighted and the blind: the advantage of the late blind" Perception 18(3) 379 – 389
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Picture and pattern perception in the sighted and the blind: the advantage of the late blind
Morton A Heller
Received 20 July 1988, in revised form 20 March 1989
Abstract. Two experiments are reported on the contribution of visual experience to tactile perception. In the first experiment, sighted, congenitally blind, and late blind individuals made tactual matches to tangible embossed shapes. In the second experiment, the same subjects attempted tactile identification of raised-line drawings. The three groups did not differ in the accuracy of shape matching, but both groups of blind subjects were much faster than the sighted. Late blind observers were far better than the sighted or congenitally blind at tactile picture identification. Four of the twelve pictures were correctly identified by most of the late blind subjects. The sighted and congenitally blind performed at comparable levels in picture naming. There was no evidence that visual experience alone aided the sighted in the tactile task under investigation, since they performed no better than did the early blind. The superiority of the late blind suggests that visual exposure to drawings and the rules of pictorial representation may help tactile picture identification when combined with a history of tactual experience.
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