Symmetry perception in the blind

Zaira Cattaneo, Micaela Fantino, Juha Silvanto, Carla Tinti, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Tomaso Vecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilateral mirror symmetry, especially vertical symmetry, is a powerful phenomenon in spatial organization of visual shapes. However, the causes of vertical symmetry salience in visual perception are not completely clear. Here we investigated whether the perceptual salience of vertical symmetry depends on visual experience by testing a group of congenitally blind individuals in a memory task in which either horizontal or vertical symmetry was used as an incidental feature. Both blind and sighted subjects remembered more accurately configurations that were symmetrical compared to those that were not. Critically, whereas sighted subjects displayed a higher level of facilitation by vertical than horizontal symmetry, no such difference was found in the blind. This suggests that the perceptual salience of the vertical dimension is visually based.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-402
Number of pages5
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Bilateral mirror symmetry
  • Blindness
  • Haptic
  • Short-term memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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