Developmental changes in the perception of visuotactile simultaneity
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A simultaneity judgment (SJ) task was used to measure the developmental trajectory of visuotactile simultaneity perception in children (aged 7, 9, 11, and 13 years) and adults. Participants were presented with a visual flash in the center of a computer monitor and a tap on their right index finger (located 20° below the flash) with 13 possible stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs). Participants reported whether the flash and tap were presented at the same time. Compared with the adult group, children aged 7 and 9 years made more simultaneous responses when the tap led by more than 300 ms and when the flash led by more than 200 ms, whereas they made fewer simultaneous responses at the 0 ms SOA. Model fitting demonstrated that the window of visuotactile simultaneity became narrower with development and reached adult-like levels between 9 and 11 years of age. Response errors decreased continuously until 11 years of age. The point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) was located on the tactile-leading side in all participants tested, indicating that 7-year olds (the youngest age tested) are adult-like on this measure. In summary, the perception of visuotactile simultaneity is not fully mature until 11 years of age. The protracted development of visuotactile simultaneity perception may be related to the need for crossmodal recalibration as the body grows and to the developmental improvements in the ability to optimally integrate visual and tactile signals.
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