Representation of Space in Blind Persons: Vision as a Spatial Sense?

Psychol Bull. 1997 Jan;121(1):20-42. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.121.1.20.


Some researchers of studies of the incidence of early visual experience on spatial abilities have demonstrated profound spatial deficits in early blind participants, whereas others have not found evidence of deleterious effects of early visual deprivation. The aims of this article are to (a) consider the theoretical background of these studies, (b) take stock of the divergent data, and (c) propose new means of investigation. The authors examine the reasons why vision plays a critical role in spatial cognition. They review the literature data. They also review the factors that could account for the discrepant data and the effects of lack of early visual experience on brain functioning. They propose that the study of strategies is a valuable option to obtain insight into early blind persons' spatial impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / congenital
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Blindness / psychology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Orientation* / physiology
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Space Perception* / physiology