Spatial biases in deaf, blind, and deafblind individuals as revealed by a haptic line bisection task

Zaira Cattaneo, Luca Rinaldi, Carlo Geraci, Carlo Cecchetto, Costanza Papagno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we investigated whether auditory deprivation leads to a more balanced bilateral control of spatial attention in the haptic space. We tested four groups of participants: early deaf, early blind, deafblind, and control (normally hearing and sighted) participants. Using a haptic line bisection task, we found that while normally hearing individuals (even when blind) showed a significant tendency to bisect to the left of the veridical midpoint (i.e., pseudoneglect), deaf individuals did not show any significant directional bias. This was the case of both deaf signers and non-signers, in line with prior findings obtained using a visual line bisection task. Interestingly, deafblind individuals also erred significantly to the left, resembling the pattern of early blind and control participants. Overall, these data critically suggest that deafness induces changes in the hemispheric asymmetry subtending the orientation of spatial attention also in the haptic modality. Moreover, our findings indicate that what counterbalances the right-hemisphere dominance in the control of spatial attention is not the lack of auditory input per se, nor sign language use, but rather the heavier reliance on visual experience induced by early auditory deprivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2325-2333
Number of pages9
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Blind
  • Deaf
  • Deafblind
  • Haptic bisection
  • Pseudoneglect
  • Sensory deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)


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