Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

J. Farley Norman (Director), Pitt Derryberry, Lance W. Hahn

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The visual cortex of human observers changes its functionality in response to visual deprivation (Boroojerdi et al., 2000). Behavioral studies have recently documented enhanced tactile abilities following a short period of visual deprivation (Facchini & Aglioti, 2003; Weisser, Stilla, Peltier, Hu, & Sathian, 2005). The current study investigated the effects of visual deprivation on two unique tactile tasks. While Facchini and Aglioti observed significant effects of visual deprivation, neither Wong, Hackeman, Hurd, and Goldreich (2011) nor Merabet et al. (2008) observed these effects. Corroborating these more recent results, no difference in grating orientation discrimination performance was observed between the sighted and visually deprived participants in the first experiment. A significant effect of experience was seen in both groups, however, irrespective of the deprivation period of 90 minutes. The second experiment immediately followed the conclusion of the first experiment. Using the same stimuli and procedures from past experiments (Norman, Clayton, Norman, & Crabtree, 2008), it investigated the participants’ haptic discrimination of 3-dimensional object shape. Again, no significant difference in performance was found between the sighted and visually deprived participants. Together, the current results show that a brief period of visual deprivation (1.5 hours) produces no significant behavioral changes for these tactile and haptic tasks.


Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Psychology