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Poster E110

Plasticity of visuoconstructional skills: Children with late vision onset learn to reproduce spatial patterns but show some persistent impairments.

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Grace Hu1, Sharon Gilad-Gutnick1, Pragya Shah2, Priti Gupta3, Chetan Ralekar1, Dhun Verma2, Suma Ganesh4, Umang Mathur4, Pawan Sinha1; 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2Project Prakash, 3IIT-Delhi, 4Shroff Charitable Eye Hospital

Visuospatial construction refers to the ability to spatially organize individual components into a whole. This skill relies on the integration of multiple cognitive systems, including visuospatial processing, motor planning, and executive functioning. While many assessments characterize the nature of these skills and observed impairments, little is known about the fundamental contribution of early visual experience in acquiring visuoconstructional skills. Here, we describe our work with children born with treatable blindness and left untreated for several years until they are identified and provided with sight-correcting cataract-removal treatment by our team at Project Prakash. To investigate the role of early- versus late-onset visual experience for acquiring visuoconstructional skill, we designed a set of tasks involving matching and reconstructing 2D patterns of colored M&M candies. By assessing children’s performance before sight-onset and at multiple timepoints thereafter, we were able to perform within subject longitudinal analysis of this skill acquisition as a function of increased visual experience. Performance changes were quantified using Procrustes-based performance scores and characterization of strategy. Our data reveal that some aspects of visuoconstructional skill develop immediately after treatment, requiring only the onset of vision but no visual experience. However, other aspects of this skill, such as capturing overall form and proportions, emerge only months or years after treatment, thus requiring both vision and extensive visual experience. Overall, late vision onset seems to lead to an over-reliance on local or piecemeal relations while delaying or even omitting the ability to capture and reproduce the global form of a pattern.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Development & aging


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