Published On: 27/06/2014|Categories: 2013–2017, Vol.35 (2), Vol.35 (2014)|

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Research into haptic picture perception has mostly concerned adult participants, and little is known about haptic picture perception in visually impaired and sighted children. In the present study, we compared 13 visually impaired children (early blind and low vision) aged 9-10 years and 13 agematched blindfolded sighted children on their ability to identify raised-line pictures of common objects when information about object category was provided prior to picture presentation (semantic cueing). The visually impaired children had moderate practice with tactile pictures, whereas the sighted controls had no prior practice with tactile pictures. We sought to determine whether the benefits of semantic cueing would add to those of practice, resulting in higher performance in the visually impaired children compared to the sighted controls (hypothesis 1), or whether semantic cueing would compensate for the lack of practice with tactile pictures in the sighted children, leading to a possible disappearance of the advantage of the visually impaired children over the sighted controls (hypothesis 2). In line with hypothesis 1, the results showed that the visually impaired children outperformed the sighted controls on both identification accuracy and response time to correct naming. We concluded that the visually impaired children outperformed the sighted controls because they benefited from both semantic cueing and superior exploration skills. By contrast, in the sighted children, semantic cueing was not sufficient to compensate for their encoding difficulties.

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