Haptic boundary extension in blind and visually impaired individuals

Krista Overvliet*, Jeanelle Sneep, Océane Peschar, Albert Postma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


A scene is often remembered as containing information that may have been present just beyond the actual boundaries of that view, which is referred to as boundary extension. Boundary extension is repeatedly reported in visual scene memory studies, but there is also evidence that boundary extension takes place in haptic scene memory. It is suggested that scene representations are functionally unitary, or multimodal (Intraub et al 2015). However, in a related field of research, it has been shown that haptic object representations are mediated by vision: haptic input is likely to be first translated to or mediated by vision to form a representation (Overvliet et al, 2013). In the current study we investigate whether vision is also needed to translate or mediate scene representation from haptic inputs. To this end, we tested blind, visually impaired and sighted individuals on a haptic boundary extension task. We asked our participants to haptically explore a scene with wooden boundaries that contained three objects with a common theme (office, bathroom and sports) and to label the scenes with the appropriate themes. After a short break we asked participants to replace the boundaries. We measured the amount of boundary extension. We hypothesized that vision influences scene representation just like object representation, and therefore influences the amount of boundary extension: if participants have no vision (i.e. are blind), they will not be able to translate a haptic scene into a visual scene representation, and therefore no boundary extension will take place. Results indeed show that blind participants show less boundary extension as compared to visually impaired and sighted participants. Moreover, blind participants were less accurate in labelling scenes. However, congenitally blind participants did not show any difference to late blind participants, indicating that current availability of vision is more important for scene memory than visual experience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event17th European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 202322 Jun 2023


Conference17th European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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