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H2020 ERC - Starting Grant 2021-2025

The role of vision on perceptual space representation

Abstract: To interact with the world that surrounds us, we rely on integrated spatial representations which we build during infancy. Visual experience is crucial for integrating sensory signals in a coherent configuration, taking into account the changes of body position in space. When vision is absent, as in the case of blind infants, how the space representation develops is still unclear. The aim of MYSpace is to identify the specific developmental periods when visual experience is crucial in establishing multisensory associations between vision and other modalities. Blind infants, blind children and blind adolescents will take part in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies spanning the developmental windows when spatial skills are acquired in sighted children. Advanced methods in psychophysics and neuroscience (high-density EEG and MRI), modeling and high-resolution motion tracking analysis will be used to investigate the following: - the role of vision on the development of independent (Objective 1) and multisensory (Objective 2) audio and tactile spatial representations at the behavioral and cortical levels; - the involvement of the visual cortex on this spatial processing when vision is absent (Objective 3); - the benefit of multisensory trainings to recover spatial impairments (Objective 4). By elucidating these aspects, the project will bridge a fundamental gap in the knowledge of spatial representations and determine how their development is shaped by visual experiences. As an outcome, MYSpace will provide a new quantitative methodology to restore the coherent spatial representations of blind infants through multisensory trainings.

Total budget: 1500000.0€

Total contribution: 1500000.0€

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