A REVERSED LAG IN THE RECOGNITION AND PRODUCTION OF TACTUAL DRAWINGS: THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR HAPTIC CODING
Susanna Millar University of Oxford
My thesis is that output factors are crucial in coding shape by touch. What I am proposing is that haptic representation is based on action plans. It is, of course, well known that movement is important in tactual perception. The very term "haptics" for active touch was coined to stress that fact. But it will be argued later that it is active movement that leads to the representation and tactual recognition of shape, rather than the other way about.
The thesis was originally motivated by a very simple but nevertheless surprising finding. Congenitally totally blind children produced reasonable drawings of the human figure more easily than they recognized such drawings. For sighted children, it is the other way about. Production lags behind recognition. Findings of this kind help us to understand the role of informational conditions in perception and representation.
It should be made clear from the outset that the question here is not about the ability of blind or of sighted children. There is no reason whatever to believe that the blind, because they are blind, differ in potential from the sighted. The point is that totally congenitally blind people provide important clues about the interplay between perception and cognitive skills. Studies are needed both for theoretical interpretation and for practical purposes, to understand precisely what information is missing without vision, and by what alternative routes that information can be acquired.
The view proposed here belongs broadly under the umbrella of informa-