Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

This volume on intersensory perception and sensory integration is the second volume of the series, Perception and Perceptual Development: A Critical Review Series. The topic of the volume is timely, for in recent years, many investigators have noted that information about any natural event is obtained by a perceiver from a variety of sources. Such an observation immediately leads to the question of how this information is synthesized and organized. Of course, the implication that there are several discrete input channels that must be processed has come under immediate attack by researchers such as the Gibsons. They find it extremely artificial to regard natural information as being cut up and requiring cementing. Nevertheless, the possibility that during ontogene­ sis, perception involves the integration of separate information has attracted the attention of scholars concerned with both normal and abnormal development. In the case of normal development, a lively controversy has arisen between those who believe perceptual develop­ ment goes from integration toward differentiation and those who hold the opposite view. In the case of abnormal psychological development such as learning disabilities, many workers have suggested that percep­ tual integration is at fault. In thinking about the issues raised in this volume, we are particularly indebted to our former teachers and colleagues: Eleanor and James Gibson, T. A. Ryan, Robert B. MacLeod, and Jerome Bruner. We are pleased to acknowledge the secretarial help of Karen Weeks in the preparation of this volume.



Intersensory Perception and Sensory Integration in Children


1. The Ontogeny of Intermodal Relations: Vision and Touch in Infancy

The ontogeny of intermodal functioning and knowledge has long been considered by philosophers and psychologists. The question of the origin and development of cross-modal knowledge was raised in the seventeenth century, when Molyneux wrote his famous letter to Locke inquiring about the abilities of a blind man hypothetically restored to sight (cited in Gregory, 1966). The answer to this monumental query is still a matter for debate.
How does the human organism arrive at the position where the perceptual systems are coordinated with each other so that, for example, stimulation to one modality gives rise to expectancies for stimulation to another? (McGurk, Turnure, & Creighton, 1977, p. 138)
Emily W. Bushnell

2. The Origins of Auditory-Visual Perception and Visual Proprioception in Human Development

Human development offers a distinctive type of inquiry within contemporary scientific psychology. James Mark Baldwin (1894) was the first psychologist to set out the advantages of the developmental approach to psychology.
The study of children is generally the only means of testing the truth of our mental analyses. If we decide that a certain complex product is due to a union of simpler elements, then we may appeal to the proper period of child life to see the union taking place … there is hardly a question of analysis now under debate which may not be tested by this method. (p. 5)
George Butterworth

3. Integrating the Information from Eyes and Hands: A Developmental Account

Questions about the relations among the senses have historic roots (Aristotle, 1941; Brentano, 1977). To understand the mechanisms by which perceptual information is equated or transferred between two or more perceptual subsystems (see J.J. Gibson, 1966) is to arrive at the fundamental questions of attention, perception, and learning. The scope of the problem may account for why theorists have, off and on, taken up the problem since the time of ancient Greece (see Boring, 1942). Here, my aims will be less ambitious. I will restrict myself to a few topics that deal with the relation between vision and haptics (active grasping and touching) from a developmental perspective. I intend to examine what we know about intersensory abilities during infancy and early childhood, because many of the issues quite naturally point us in that direction.
Eugene Abravanel

4. The Developmental Significance of Cross-Modal Matching

Philosophers and psychologists have sometimes argued that traditional distinctions between the spatial senses and, for that matter, between afferent sensory perception and efferent motor control are arbitrary and unhelpful (e.g., Bornstein, 1936; Freedman, 1968; von Hornbostel, 1927). Conceptual and experimental isolation of visual, auditory, and somesthetic processes (ultimately based upon Muller’s so-called “law of specific nervous energies”) led, undoubtedly, to a tremendous increase in knowledge of peripheral sensory physiology and to more or less detailed descriptions of sensory pathways to the central nervous system. Yet such work seemed to imply that human beings and other creatures see, hear, feel, and so on as isolated independent acts, as though individuals could only be known to each other as distinct independent visual, auditory, and sentient persons. Moreover ordinary language does not make the distinctions between modality dimensions which any treatment of, say, sight, hearing, and touch as isolated and distinct ways of knowing the world would seem to require. (Ordinary language is in fact shot through with synesthetic comparisons. See, e.g., Marks, 1975, for a recent discussion of synesthesia.) Of course, knowledge is perceptually based, but it is not obvious that it is visually based or (pace Berkeley) tactually based.
Bill Jones

Higher-Order Integration


5. Some Aspects of Sensory-Motor Control and Adaptation in Man

The control of human movement and spatial orientation is notably complex. The body is multiply articulate and as the trunk and limbs change their orientation with respect to the gravitational-force vector, the forces necessary to move a limb through a given angle also change. Moving the forearm back and forth through the same angular distances in a vertical and then in a horizontal plane represents a simple example of this. Even though the motor commands necessary to bring about the “same movement” in the two cases differ because of the load and orientation changes, one nevertheless, unless fatigued, experiences little or no difference in the effort required to bring about the movements. This means that the skeletomuscular system is “calibrated” such that body movements of a given extent are perceived as equivalent in terms of apparent force despite often radical differences in the actual forces involved. Such a calibration is possible only through a continual monitoring of the relative configuration and orientation of the body in relation to the substrate of support and the gravitoinertial-force vector. Actually, as Mach (1897) pointed out long ago, the eyes are really the only movable parts of the body that can be controlled by means of innervation sequences that bring about the same movements regardless of body orientation.1
James R. Lackner

6. Visual-Proprioceptive Interactions

This chapter is intended to present diverse points of view and provocative discussions of selected problems underlying visual-proprioceptive inter-actions. I do not intend to restrict my descriptions of visual-proprioceptive interactions to the field of experimental psychology alone, nor do I intend to propose a singular and unique explanation of these interactions. Rather, historical, anatomical, neurophysiological, and psychological constructs and data will all be considered. Thus, the chapter will be largely eclectic.
Malcolm M. Cohen

7. Multisensory Aspects of Rhythm

According to Plato in the Laws, “Rhythm is the order in movement.” This definition, concise as it may be, is still the best one available. With it, Plato described what appeared in the numerous theatrical performances where the coryphaeus assured the coordination of the chorus’ songs and dances. Fragments of a dissertation by Aristoxène of Taranto (born 360 B.C.), found at the end of the eighteenth century and annotated by Westphal (1883) in Germany and by Laloy (1904) in France, provide valuable information regarding this order of movement.
Paul Fraisse

8. Gait Perception as an Example of How We May Perceive Events

In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke (Locke, 1690/1959, 11:8:9) listed five primary qualities of objects in the world around us: solidity, extension, figure, number, and motion. These attributes have served us well in the study of perception. Solidity, for example, has been studied in terms of transparency and depth in vision, texture in touch, and stereophony in audition—stereophonic literally means ‘solid sound.’ Extension, or size, has been very important, particularly in vision, where psychologists have studied effects of relative and absolute size, and proximal and distal size. Figure, interpreted as shape or form, has undoubtedly been the most important quality of objects for all perception, providing impetus for Gestalt and other psychologists. Number, especially when logically extended to include composition and the relation of parts to wholes, has also played an important role. Motion has also played some part; however, unlike the others, motion has most often been excised from the aggregate by the perceptual psychologist. It appears that we have spent most of our efforts in the study of static figures of a certain size, composition, and apparent solidity. It is clear that motion is a quality unlike the others; it invokes time. Our general purpose is to help integrate motion and time back into the study of perception.
James E. Cutting, Dennis R. Proffitt

Sensory Integration in Special Populations


9. Crossmodal and Intersensory Perception and the Blind

Performance by the blind has been of interest in understanding cross-modal recognition since Molyneux asked his celebrated question whether a blind man, made to see, would recognize by sight alone an object that he had hitherto perceived only through touch. Von Senden (1960) suggested that there is little transfer. But for complete restoration of sight some preoperative residual vision is necessary (Rapin, 1979; Riesen, 1975). Gregory and Wallace’s (1963) patient had light perception preoperatively. After the corneal graft that restored his sight, he recognized uppercase letters that he had previously learned only through touch. But, despite an interest in tools, he could not easily identify relatively unfamiliar tools until after he had explored them by touch. Gregory (1974, p. 106) suggests that although his patient “came to use vision his ideas of the world arose from touch.”
Susanna Millar

10. Coding Strategies of Normal and Handicapped Children

This chapter reports the results of experiments carried out with children who suffer from either specific perceptual or general cognitive handicaps. The studies represent an attempt to compare the effects of such specific sensory handicaps with general cognitive deficit, but they were also intended as a breaking away from the traditional role of psychology in relation to psychiatry, a role in which psychologists have tended to accept uncritically the classificatory framework of clinically defined groups or, alternatively, to reject such diagnostically defined groupings out of hand. A further source for these studies lay in the problems which characterize the psychological investigation of subnormality, which had for long been dominated by the important concept of intelligence. Although the experimental investigation of general cognitive handicap has proceeded in the last two decades by specific investigations concerned with learning processes, this particular departure from the traditional approach via the intelligence test could nonetheless be criticized. Explicitly or implicitly, most experimental workers in the field of subnormality have assumed the existence of a linear information-handling process, beginning with the focusing of attention and followed by perception and short-term retention of input. The categorization of this retained input in long-term memory, the selection of a verbal equivalent, and the subsequent verbal or motor output associated with the stimulus have been the other stages which have been presumed.
N. O’connor, B. Hermelin

11. Sensory-Motor and Perceptual-Motor Theories and Practices: An Overview and Evaluation

The use of movement to aid the human condition has a past lost in antiquity. The ancient Hindus and Chinese practiced various physical exercises to remedy a variety of illnesses and pathologies. Thousands of years before the coming of Christ, the Greeks and Romans, as well as physicians in the Arab nations, also included physical exercise in their medical kits (Licht, 1965).
Bryant J. Cratty

12. Individual Differences in the Interaction of Vision and Proprioception

In this chapter, I should like to propose that experimental research on individual differences in perception can contribute to the study of perception in general. Investigators have always been concerned about individual differences, but mostly as a source of unwanted variation in their measurements which was beyond their control. However, rarely have personal perceptual habits been studied to learn about perception. I will try to show that this may be worth doing by describing research on the interaction of vision and proprioception. A few studies about audition will be included as well.
Jacqueline M. F. Samuel


Weitere Informationen