Allocentric spatial performance higher in early-blind and sighted adults than in retinopathy-of-prematurity adults

Eardley, A.F., Edwards, G., Malouin, F. and Kennedy, J. 2016. Allocentric spatial performance higher in early-blind and sighted adults than in retinopathy-of-prematurity adults. Perception. 45 (3), pp. 281-299. doi:10.1177/0301006615607157

TitleAllocentric spatial performance higher in early-blind and sighted adults than in retinopathy-of-prematurity adults
AuthorsEardley, A.F.
Edwards, G.
Malouin, F.
Kennedy, J.
Abstract

The question as to whether people totally blind since infancy process allocentric or ‘external’ spatial information like the sighted has caused considerable debate within the literature. Due to the extreme rarity of the population, researchers have often included individuals with Retinopathy of Prematurity (RoP – over oxygenation at birth) within the sample. However, RoP is inextricably confounded with prematurity per se. Prematurity, without visual disability, has been associated with spatial processing difficulties. In this experiment, blindfolded sighted and two groups of functionally totally blind participants heard text descriptions from a survey (allocentric) or route (egocentric) perspective. One blind group lost their sight due to retinopathy of prematurity (RoP – over oxygenation at birth) and a second group before 24 months of age. The accuracy of participants’ mental representations derived from the text descriptions were assessed via questions and maps. The RoP participants had lower scores than the sighted and early blind, who performed similarly. In other words, it was not visual impairment alone that resulted in impaired allocentric spatial performance in this task, but visual impairment together with RoP. This finding may help explain the contradictions within the existing literature on the role of vision in allocentric spatial processing.

Keywordsmental representation, blind, allocentric, spatial, egocentric, visually impaired
JournalPerception
Journal citation45 (3), pp. 281-299
ISSN0301-0066
Year2016
PublisherSage
Accepted author manuscriptEardley_et_al_reanalysis_accepted.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/0301006615607157
Publication dates
Published online01 Oct 2015
Published in printMar 2016

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