Visual experience is necessary for efficient haptic face recognition

Christian Wallraven, Lisa Dopjans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Humans are experts for face processing - this expertise develops over the course of several years, given visual input about faces from infancy. Recent studies have shown that individuals can also recognize faces haptically, albeit at lower performance than visually. Given that blind individuals are extensively trained on haptic processing, one may expect them to perform better at recognizing faces from touch than sighted individuals. Here, we tested this hypothesis using matched groups of sighted, congenitally blind, and acquired-blind individuals. Surprisingly, we found little evidence for a performance benefit for blind participants compared with sighted controls. Moreover, the congenitally blind group performed significantly worse than both the sighted and the acquired-blind group. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that visual expertise may be necessary for haptic face recognition; hence, even extensive haptic training cannot easily account for deficits in visual processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-258
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar 27


  • face recognition
  • haptics
  • multisensory integration
  • visual expertise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Visual experience is necessary for efficient haptic face recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this