August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Material Perception in Blind and Sighted Participants
Author Affiliations
  • Elisabeth Baumgartner
    Abteilung Allgemeine Psychologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
  • Christiane Wiebel
    Abteilung Allgemeine Psychologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
  • Karl Gegenfurtner
    Abteilung Allgemeine Psychologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 460. doi:
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      Elisabeth Baumgartner, Christiane Wiebel, Karl Gegenfurtner; Material Perception in Blind and Sighted Participants . Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):460. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Both the visual and the haptic senses play important roles in the everyday perception of materials. However, how the two senses compare in material perception tasks and how they influence each other in the emergence of a common representation of materials is largely unknown. We have recently compared material property ratings following visual exploration of materials with ratings following haptic exploration and found that participants’ judgments of material properties are very similar, independent of the type of exploration (Baumgartner, Wiebel, & Gegenfurtner, 2013). However, when we asked our observers to categorize the different material samples, their performance was better with visual exploration rather than haptic exploration. To explore the effect visual experience has on material perception, we asked congenitally blind participants to explore different materials haptically and rate several material properties (roughness, elasticity, hardness, three-dimensionality, friction, orderliness, and temperature). In addition, we asked them to categorize our materials into one of eight categories (plastic, paper, fabric, fur, leather, stone, metal, and wood). Principal components analyses were conducted on sighted participants’ haptic rating data as well as blind participants’ haptic rating data. A procrustes analysis showed that the two principal component spaces were highly similar. Categorization performance was also comparable for the two groups. (sighted participants: 66.6%, congenitally blind participants: 68.6%). We conclude that the representational space of materials we have observed can be formed without the influence of visual experience.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014


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