C. Tortelli, I. Senna, P. Binda, M. O. Ernst
Development of local-global preference in vision and haptics
Journal of Vision April 2023, Vol.23, 6
We aimed to advance our understanding of local-global preference by exploring its developmental path within and across sensory modalities: vision and haptics. Neurotypical individuals from six years of age through adulthood completed a similarity judgement task with hierarchical haptic or visual stimuli made of local elements (squares or triangles) forming a global shape (a square or a triangle). Participants chose which of two probes was more similar to a target: the one sharing the global shape (but different local shapes) or the one with the same local shapes (but different global shape). Across trials, we independently varied the size of the local elements and that of the global configuration—the latter was varied by manipulating local element density while keeping their numerosity constant. We found that the size of local elements (but not global size) modulates the effects of age and modality. For stimuli with smaller local elements, the proportion of global responses increased with age and was similar for visual and haptic stimuli. However, for stimuli made of our largest local elements, the global preference was reduced or absent, particularly in haptics, regardless of age. These results suggest that vision and haptics progressively converge toward similar global preference with age, but residual differences across modalities and across individuals may be observed, depending on the characteristics of the stimuli.