Visual experience facilitates allocentric spatial representation

Pasqualotto, Achille; Spiller, Mary Jane; Jansari, Ashok S. and Proulx, Michael J.. 2013. Visual experience facilitates allocentric spatial representation. Behavioural Brain Research, 236(1), pp. 175-179. ISSN 0166-4328 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Representing the position of the objects independently from our own position is a fundamental cognitive ability. Here we investigated whether this ability depends on visual experience. Congenitally blind, late blind and blindfolded sighted participants haptically learnt a room-sized regularly shaped array of objects, and their spatial memory was tested to determine which spatial reference frame was used. Crucially, the use of an object-based reference frame requires representing the regular structure of the array. We found that blindfolded sighted and late blind participants, that is those with visual experience, showed a preferential use of the object-based or ‘allocentric’ reference frame. On the contrary, congenitally blind participants preferred a self-based, or egocentric, reference frame. This suggests that, due to its developmental effect on the multisensory brain areas involved in spatial cognition, visual experience is necessary to develop a preference for an object-based, allocentric reference frame.

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Spatial cognition; Multisensory integration; Visual experience; Blindness; Reference frames; Neural plasticity

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January 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Jan 2015 11:44

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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