Visuo-haptic processing of unfamiliar shapes: Comparing children and adults

Furat AlAhmed, Anne Rau, Christian Wallraven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The question of how our sensory perception abilities develop has been an active area of research, establishing trajectories of development from infancy that last well into late childhood and even adolescence. In this context, several studies have established changes in sensory processing of vision and touch around the age of 8 to 9 years. In this experiment, we explored the visual and haptic perceptual development of elementary school children of ages 6–11 in similarity-rating tasks of unfamiliar objects and compared their performance to adults. The participants were presented with parametrically-defined objects to be explored haptically and visually in separate groups for both children and adults. Our results showed that the raw similarity ratings of the children had more variability compared to adults. A detailed multidimensional scaling analysis revealed that the reconstructed perceptual space of the adult haptic group was significantly closer to the parameter space compared to the children group, whereas both groups’ visual perceptual space was similarly well reconstructed. Beyond this, however, we found no clear evidence for an age effect in either modality within the children group. These results suggest that haptic processing of unfamiliar, abstract shapes may continue to develop beyond the age of 11 years later into adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286905
JournalPloS one
Issue number10 OCTOBER
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Oct

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 AlAhmed et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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