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Mental rotation in blind and sighted adolescents: The effects of haptic strategies

Abstract : When observing blind persons in a situation of mental rotation, it is more usual to emphasize their lack of visual experience than their expertise concerning tactile exploration. Nevertheless, it seems important to verify whether the procedures of tactile exploration developed by young blind persons enable them to recognize a shape whatever its orientation in space. Objective. – The objective of this study was to compare blind adolescents and sighted adolescents in a situation of mental rotation, with raised patterns. Method. – In this perspective, a group of blind adolescents and a group of sighted adolescents – matched for age and sex – have been observed during two task of mental rotation. Results. – The results show that the blind adolescents are always faster, and they perform better when the rotation task concerns simple shapes. A fine analysis of the strategies of tactile exploration deployed by the subjects allows us to identify several procedures that are specific to the blind adolescents. These exploratory procedures allow them to compensate for the lack of visual experience, up to a certain level of complexity in the shapes. Conclusion. – These results suggest that the recognition of 2D shapes after rotation in space is not necessarily problematic for the blind. These results are discussed in relation with recent work on the haptic competence of blind persons.
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Katia Rovira, Loïc Deschamps, Damaris Baena-Gomez. Mental rotation in blind and sighted adolescents: The effects of haptic strategies. European Review of Applied Psychology / Revue Européenne de Psychologie Appliquée, Elsevier, 2011, 61 (3), pp.153 - 160. ⟨10.1016/j.erap.2011.05.001⟩. ⟨hal-01930863⟩



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