Cross-modal motion after effects transfer between vision and touch in early deaf adults

Previous research on early deafness has primarily focused on the behavioral and neural changes in the intact visual and tactile modalities. However, how early deafness changes the interplay of these two modalities is not well understood. In the current study, we investigated the effect of auditory deprivation on visuo-tactile interaction by measuring the cross-modal motion aftereffect. Consistent with previous findings, motion aftereffect transferred between vision and touch in a bidirectional manner in hearing participants. However, for deaf participants, the cross-modal transfer occurred only in the tactile-to-visual direction but not in the visual-to-tactile direction. This unidirectional cross-modal motion aftereffect found in the deaf participants could not be explained by unisensory motion aftereffect or discrimination threshold.

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Fig: The experimental procedure in the visual-to-tactile condition. In each trial, a 10-s visual grating drifting either upward or downward was presented, followed by a period of 1 s blank and then a rapid target tactile sweep delivered to participants’ index fingertip of the right hand. The duration of the tactile sweep was determined by the staircase procedure. Participants were asked to judge the motion direction of the tactile sweep and press “U” for upward motions and “D” for downward motions.

The results suggest a reduced visual influence on tactile motion perception in early deaf individuals.

Xiao, K., Gao, Y., Imran, S.A. et al. Cross-modal motion aftereffects transfer between vision and touch in early deaf adults. Sci Rep 11,4395 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-83960-0

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