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Encoding audio motion: spatial impairment in early blind individuals.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Psychology
1664-1078
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Volume
6
Pages
1357–1357
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01357
PMID: 26441733
Source
Medline
Keywords
  • Auditory Perception
  • Blindness
  • Early Blind
  • Movement
  • Spatial Cognition

Abstract

The consequence of blindness on auditory spatial localization has been an interesting issue of research in the last decade providing mixed results. Enhanced auditory spatial skills in individuals with visual impairment have been reported by multiple studies, while some aspects of spatial hearing seem to be impaired in the absence of vision. In this study, the ability to encode the trajectory of a 2-dimensional sound motion, reproducing the complete movement, and reaching the correct end-point sound position, is evaluated in 12 early blind (EB) individuals, 8 late blind (LB) individuals, and 20 age-matched sighted blindfolded controls. EB individuals correctly determine the direction of the sound motion on the horizontal axis, but show a clear deficit in encoding the sound motion in the lower side of the plane. On the contrary, LB individuals and blindfolded controls perform much better with no deficit in the lower side of the plane. In fact the mean localization error resulted 271 ± 10 mm for EB individuals, 65 ± 4 mm for LB individuals, and 68 ± 2 mm for sighted blindfolded controls. These results support the hypothesis that (i) it exists a trade-off between the development of enhanced perceptual abilities and role of vision in the sound localization abilities of EB individuals, and (ii) the visual information is fundamental in calibrating some aspects of the representation of auditory space in the brain.

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