ability itself ( Axelrod, 1959). Although no differences exist in these measures of sensitivity, blind persons do excel in certain types of complex tactile form perception, indicating that basic measures do not necessarily predict performance on more cognitively demanding tasks. In fact, what appears to be the case is that blind persons are simply more attentive to this communication channel than those of us who are sighted ( Hollins, 1989, pp. 45-47). These issues will be dealt with elsewhere in this volume.
The following chapters will build on these data, discussing in more detail how tactile information is perceived in displays, natural and artificial, simple and complex. The skin can provide a rich alternative input channel for those whose visual and auditory sensory channels are either overloaded (as in the case of jet fighter pilots) or disabled (as in the case of blind or deaf persons). The chapters will illustrate the richness of sensations available through this oft-ignored communication channel, which allows us to keep in touch with the world around us.
The preparation of this manuscript was supported by Grant NS-04775-26 from the National Institutes of Health to Princeton University.
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