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Haptic cues for orientation and postural control in sighted and blind individualsHaptic cues from fingertip contact with a stable surface attenuate body sway in subjects even when the contact forces are too small to provide physical support of the body. We investigated how haptic cues derived from contact of a cane with a stationary surface at low force levels aids postural control in sighted and congenitally blind individuals. Five sighted (eyes closed) and five congenitally blind subjects maintained a tandem Romberg stance in five conditions: (1) no cane; (2,3) touch contact (< 2 N of applied force) while holding the cane in a vertical or slanted orientation; and (4,5) force contact (as much force as desired) in the vertical and slanted orientations. Touch contact of a cane at force levels below those necessary to provide significant physical stabilization was as effective as force contact in reducing postural sway in all subjects, compared to the no-cane condition. A slanted cane was far more effective in reducing postural sway than was a perpendicular cane. Cane use also decreased head displacement of sighted subjects far more than that of blind subjects. These results suggest that head movement control is linked to postural control through gaze stabilization reflexes in sighted subjects; such reflexes are absent in congenitally blind individuals and may account for their higher levels of head displacement.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Jeka, J. J. (Brandeis University Waltham, Massachusetts, United States)
Easton, R. D.
Bentzen, B. L.
Lackner, J. R.
Date Acquired
August 22, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1996
Publication Information
Publication: Perception & psychophysics
Volume: 58
Issue: 3
ISSN: 0031-5117
Subject Category
Behavioral Sciences
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Neuroscience
Non-NASA Center