Tactile-'visual' acuity of the tongue in early blind individuals

Daniel Robert Chebat, Constant Rainville, Ron Kupers, Maurice Ptito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study compares the 'tactile-visual' acuity of the tongue for 15 early blind participants with that of 24 age-matched and sex-matched sighted controls. Snellen's tumbling E test was used to assess 'visual' acuity using the tongue display unit. The tongue display unit is a sensory substitution device that converts a visual stimulus grabbed by a camera into electro-tactile pulses delivered to the tongue via a grid made out of electrodes. No overall significant difference was found in thresholds between early blind (1/206) and sighted control (1/237) participants. We found, however, a larger proportion of early blind in the two highest visual acuity categories (1/150 and 1/90). These results extend earlier findings that it is possible to measure visual acuity in the blind individuals using the tongue. Moreover, our data demonstrate that a subgroup of early blind participants is more efficient than controls in conveying visual information through the tongue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1904
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroReport
Volume18
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Blindness
  • Cross-modal plasticity
  • Sensory substitution
  • Tactile-visual acuity
  • Tongue
  • Tongue display unit

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