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Full Access Spatial imagery and cognitive style in blind individuals

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Spatial imagery and cognitive style in blind individuals

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

Previous research into the effects of blindness on spatial imagery has been inconclusive. Here we investigated whether visual status and cognitive style affected performance on a spatial imagery task (spIMG). Early blind, late blind and age-matched sighted participants were recruited. Blind participants were classified as early or late blind according to the age at which form vision was lost (cutoff = 10 years). Participants were asked to memorize a 4 × 4 lettered matrix. Subsequently, when cued auditorily by four-letter sequences, they mentally constructed patterns within the matrix and compared the resulting shapes. They also completed the Object-Spatial Imagery and Verbal Questionnaire (OSIVQ; Blazhenkova and Kozhevnikov, 2009). Overall, the spIMG accuracy of both early blind and late blind participants was significantly poorer than that of sighted participants. Moreover, the accuracy of blind participants was uncorrelated with the age at which form vision was lost. Imagery preference, as assessed by the OSIVQ, varied with the visual status of the participants, with early (but not late) blind participants reporting significantly lower object scores than sighted controls. Cognitive style also differently modulated performance across the participant groups: higher scores for either object imagery or verbalizing were significantly negatively correlated with spIMG accuracy of sighted, but not blind participants, whereas higher spatial imagery scores were significantly positively correlated with spIMG accuracy only in the early blind group. These findings suggest the potential for spatial cognitive training of blind people, and also imply the need for individualizing such training based on cognitive style.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Neurology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Previous research into the effects of blindness on spatial imagery has been inconclusive. Here we investigated whether visual status and cognitive style affected performance on a spatial imagery task (spIMG). Early blind, late blind and age-matched sighted participants were recruited. Blind participants were classified as early or late blind according to the age at which form vision was lost (cutoff = 10 years). Participants were asked to memorize a 4 × 4 lettered matrix. Subsequently, when cued auditorily by four-letter sequences, they mentally constructed patterns within the matrix and compared the resulting shapes. They also completed the Object-Spatial Imagery and Verbal Questionnaire (OSIVQ; Blazhenkova and Kozhevnikov, 2009). Overall, the spIMG accuracy of both early blind and late blind participants was significantly poorer than that of sighted participants. Moreover, the accuracy of blind participants was uncorrelated with the age at which form vision was lost. Imagery preference, as assessed by the OSIVQ, varied with the visual status of the participants, with early (but not late) blind participants reporting significantly lower object scores than sighted controls. Cognitive style also differently modulated performance across the participant groups: higher scores for either object imagery or verbalizing were significantly negatively correlated with spIMG accuracy of sighted, but not blind participants, whereas higher spatial imagery scores were significantly positively correlated with spIMG accuracy only in the early blind group. These findings suggest the potential for spatial cognitive training of blind people, and also imply the need for individualizing such training based on cognitive style.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0139
2013-05-16
2016-12-06

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