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Olivier Pascalis; What is the Impact of Deafness on Face Perception and Peripheral Visual Field Sensitivity?. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):9a. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.9a.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It is well established that early profound deafness leads to enhancements in visual processes. Different findings are reported for peripheral versus central vision. Visual improvements have been mainly reported for the peripheral visual field, which is believed to be a result of deaf people’s need to compensate for inaccessible auditory cues in the periphery, but for central visual processing, mixed results (including no changes, poorer, and superior performance) have been found for deaf people. We consider two important intriguing (and often overlooked) issues that pertain to deaf vision: One, deaf people, and many hearing people too, use sign language which requires steady fixation on the face. Signers pay rigorous attention to the face because faces provide critical intonational and linguistic information during communication. Two, this also means that most of the manual language information falls in the perceiver’s lower visual field, as the signer’s hands almost always fall in front of the torso region. I will present a series of studies in which we tried to separate the impacts of deafness and sign language experience on face processing and on peripheral field sensitivity. In order to address the role of sign language, in the absence of deafness, we report results from hearing signers. Our results suggest that sign language experience, not associated with deafness, may be also a modulating factor of visual cognition.
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