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Author Notes:

Corresponding author: K. Sathian, Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, WMB-6000, 101 Woodruff Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA, Email: krish.sathian@emory.edu

We are grateful to the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta, GA, the Georgia chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and the Georgia Radio Reading Service for assistance with recruitment of blind participants, and to Dr. Valerie Biousse for neuro-ophthalmologic assessments.

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by NIH grant R01EY012440 to KS. Support to KS and CS from the Veterans Administration is also acknowledged.


  • Science & Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Psychology
  • Psychology, Experimental
  • Shape
  • rotation
  • touch

Haptic Object Recognition is View-Independent in Early Blind but not Sighted People


Journal Title:



Volume 45, Number 3


, Pages 337-345

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Object recognition, whether visual or haptic, is impaired in sighted people when objects are rotated between learning and test, relative to an unrotated condition, that is, recognition is view-dependent. Loss of vision early in life results in greater reliance on haptic perception for object identification compared with the sighted. Therefore, we hypothesized that early blind people may be more adept at recognizing objects despite spatial transformations. To test this hypothesis, we compared early blind and sighted control participants on a haptic object recognition task. Participants studied pairs of unfamiliar three-dimensional objects and performed a two-alternative forced-choice identification task, with the learned objects presented both unrotated and rotated 180° about the y-axis. Rotation impaired the recognition accuracy of sighted, but not blind, participants. We propose that, consistent with our hypothesis, haptic view-independence in the early blind reflects their greater experience with haptic object perception.

Copyright information:

© The Author(s) 2015.

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