The effect of visuo-haptic exploration on the development of the geometric cross-sectioning ability

J Exp Child Psychol. 2024 Feb:238:105774. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2023.105774. Epub 2023 Sep 12.


Cross-sectioning is a shape understanding task where the participants must infer and interpret the spatial features of three-dimensional (3D) solids by depicting their internal two-dimensional (2D) arrangement. An increasing body of research provides evidence of the crucial role of sensorimotor experience in acquiring these complex geometrical concepts. Here, we focused on how cross-sectioning ability emerges in young children and the influence of multisensory visuo-haptic experience in geometrical learning through two experiments. In Experiment 1, we compared the 3D printed version of the Santa Barbara Solids Test (SBST) with its classical paper version; in Experiment 2, we contrasted the children's performance in the SBST before and after the visual or visuo-haptic experience. In Experiment 1, we did not identify an advantage in visualizing 3D shapes over the classical 2D paper test. In contrast, in Experiment 2, we found that children who had the experience of a combination of visual and tactile information during the exploration phase improved their performance in the SBST compared with children who were limited to visual exploration. Our study demonstrates how practicing novel multisensory strategies improves children's understanding of complex geometrical concepts. This outcome highlights the importance of introducing multisensory experience in educational training and the need to make way for developing new technologies that could improve learning abilities in children.

Keywords: Cross-sectioning development; Geometrical concept development; Multisensory; Sensorimotor development; Sensorimotor integration; Visuo-haptic experience.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Haptic Technology
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Touch
  • Touch Perception*
  • Visual Perception*