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Visual information is extremely important to generate internal spatial representations. In the auditory modality, the absence of visual cues during early infancy does not preclude the development of some spatial strategies. However, specific spatial abilities might result impaired. In the current study, we investigated the effect of early visual deprivation on the ability to localize static and moving auditory stimuli by comparing sighted and early blind individuals’ performance in different spatial tasks. We also examined perceptual stability in the two groups of participants by matching localization accuracy in a static and a dynamic head condition that involved rotational head movements. Sighted participants accurately localized static and moving sounds. Their localization ability remained unchanged after rotational movements of the head. Conversely, blind participants showed a leftward bias during the localization of static sounds and a little bias for moving sounds. Moreover, head movements induced a significant bias in the direction of head motion during the localization of moving sounds. These results suggest that internal spatial representations might be body-centered in blind individuals and that in sighted people the availability of visual cues during early infancy may affect sensory-motor interactions.

Author: Tiziana Vercillo , Alessia Tonelli, Monica Gori



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