The research program will assess the impact of visual experience on tactile perception in the sighted, late blind, and early blind. Visual spatial frames of reference, visual imagery, and visual guidance are often thought to be important for tactual perception in the sighted and visually impaired. The experiments will study the influence of these factors on tactile perception. It is generally assumed that the lack of visual experience in the early blind can explain their lower performance in some spatial tasks. The sighted and blind will be compared in tactile texture perception, Optacon use, tactile numerosity judgments, and form perception. Research on tactual perception in the sighted will focus on the effect of visual guidance and orientation on braille recognition. Shifts in orientation are expected to degrade braille recognition. Visual guidance is expected to improve tactile perception, and help the individual compensate for stimulus slant. Visual guidance will be provided by allowing subjects blurry vision through plastic stained glass. Light emitting diodes will be used to manipulate visual information about finger orientation and the array of braille. This technique will permit clarification of the roles of spatial frame of reference information and sight of scanning movements. The research is of importance to low vision persons, and those in the process of losing sight. It is expected that the research will develop methods for the improvement of the rehabilitation of persons with residual vision.

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Winston-Salem State University
United States
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Aileru, A A; De Albuquerque, A; Hamlyn, J M et al. (2001) Synaptic plasticity in sympathetic ganglia from acquired and inherited forms of ouabain-dependent hypertension. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 281:R635-44