April 2014
Volume 55, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2014
Trade-offs between tactile and visual function
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Deyue Yu
    College of Optometry, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • Landon Perry
    College of Optometry, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships Deyue Yu, None; Landon Perry, None
  • Footnotes
    Support None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2014, Vol.55, 4145. doi:
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      Deyue Yu, Landon Perry; Trade-offs between tactile and visual function. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):4145.

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

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Purpose: To compensate for vision loss, low-vision patients often utilize information gathered by other senses such as touch to facilitate object recognition. Understanding the relationship between visual and tactile functions is therefore important to the visual rehabilitation of these patients. The present study investigates the relationships between tactile performance and basic visual functions.

Methods: There are two experiments. Twenty-two normally-sighted young adults participated in Experiment 1. Fifteen returned for Experiment 2. Measurements include near visual acuity, distance visual acuity (high and low contrast), contrast sensitivities (Experiment 2 only), tactile acuity (measured using three-dot patterns), and tactile object recognition performance. To evaluate tactile object recognition, we adopted two types of raised line-drawing objects—everyday objects for the object-identification task in Experiment 1, and structurally possible/impossible objects for the object-discrimination task (discriminating between possible and impossible objects) in Experiment 2. Both tasks require integrating local features of the object to form a global representation, with the main difference being the stimulus familiarity. Tactile stimuli were created on Swell Paper. Subjects were blindfolded for tactile tasks, and were later asked to recognize the same line drawings visually. Since visual performance for possible/impossible objects did not reach 100% accuracy for some subjects, we compared tactile response with the corresponding visual response and used the matching rate instead of discrimination accuracy as a measure of performance.

Results: Despite little variation in visual acuity across subjects, we found a negative correlation between tactile acuity and distance visual acuity (r2=0.22; p=0.03). Consistently, we also found negative relationships between tactile performance in both object tasks and visual acuities (r2=0.18 to 0.41; p=0.001 to 0.096). In general, subjects with worse visual acuity exhibited superior tactile performance—better tactile acuity, and higher accuracy for identifying everyday objects and discriminating possible/impossible objects.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates an interesting trade-off relationship between visual function, specifically visual acuity, and tactile functions such as tactile acuity and tactile object recognition.

Keywords: 584 low vision • 754 visual acuity • 641 perception  

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