Young children do not integrate visual and haptic form information,Curr Biol, 9 (18), 694-698.
Several studies have shown that adults integrate visual and haptic information (and information from other modalities) in a statistically optimal fashion, weighting each sense according to its reliability [1, 2]. When does this capacity for crossmodal integration develop? Here, we show that prior to 8 years of age, integration of visual and haptic spatial information is far from optimal, with either vision or touch dominating totally, even in conditions in which the dominant sense is far less precise than the other (assessed by discrimination thresholds). For size discrimination, haptic information dominates in determining both perceived size and discrimination thresholds, whereas for orientation discrimination, vision dominates. By 8-10 years, the integration becomes statistically optimal, like adults. We suggest that during development, perceptual systems require constant recalibration, for which cross-sensory comparison is important. Using one sense to calibrate the other precludes useful combination of the two sources.