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Full Access The effect of deafness and musical training on perception of space

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The effect of deafness and musical training on perception of space

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image of Multisensory Research
For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

Individuals tend to show a slight but systematic leftward bias when asked to bisect a line in ether the visual or haptic modality, a tendency known as pseudoneglect (Bowers and Heilman, 1980) and that is likely to reflect a right-hemisphere dominance in spatial attention. Interestingly, when asked to bisect visual lines musicians have been found to be more accurate than non musicians and also to show an opposite slight rightward bias (‘minineglect’) (Patston et al., 2006). Here we show for the first time that deaf individuals are also more accurate than hearing individuals in bisecting visual lines, and that they show a slight tendency to bisect to the right of the true center, resembling the pattern of musicians. Hence, paradoxically, musical training and sign language seems to affect the way peripersonal space is represented in a similar vein. Interestingly, we observed the same pattern in the haptic modality: when asked to bisect haptic lines, the musicians we recruited were more accurate than non musicians, and showed a slight tendency to bisect to the right of the true midpoint. Deaf individuals showed a more variable pattern depending on the hand used to bisect the line: with the left hand, a clear rightward bias emerged. Overall, our data show that deafness and intense music training may have similar effects on visuo-spatial attention.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy; 2: 2Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Italy

Individuals tend to show a slight but systematic leftward bias when asked to bisect a line in ether the visual or haptic modality, a tendency known as pseudoneglect (Bowers and Heilman, 1980) and that is likely to reflect a right-hemisphere dominance in spatial attention. Interestingly, when asked to bisect visual lines musicians have been found to be more accurate than non musicians and also to show an opposite slight rightward bias (‘minineglect’) (Patston et al., 2006). Here we show for the first time that deaf individuals are also more accurate than hearing individuals in bisecting visual lines, and that they show a slight tendency to bisect to the right of the true center, resembling the pattern of musicians. Hence, paradoxically, musical training and sign language seems to affect the way peripersonal space is represented in a similar vein. Interestingly, we observed the same pattern in the haptic modality: when asked to bisect haptic lines, the musicians we recruited were more accurate than non musicians, and showed a slight tendency to bisect to the right of the true midpoint. Deaf individuals showed a more variable pattern depending on the hand used to bisect the line: with the left hand, a clear rightward bias emerged. Overall, our data show that deafness and intense music training may have similar effects on visuo-spatial attention.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0047
2013-05-16
2016-12-09

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