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Spatial Knowledge and Geometric Representation in a Child Blind from Birth Barbara Landau; Henry Gleitman; Elizabeth Spelke

Science, New Series, Vol. 213, No. 4513. (Sep. 11, 1981), pp. 1275-1278.
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Pantle. The mash consisted of 50 percent ground sunby gas chromatography (F and M model 810). . the development o f human knowlextensiveness of defoliation and number of for spatial inference freshly clipped needle clusters. When the volume of the obtained for the seasonally combined data with (made from ground sunflower seeds and extract was less than 0. oneand the area of each component relative to 10 The monoterpene was obtained from Glidden. Once minute to 16S°C. M. J. tailed test) and showed that higher conpercent of the area of the internal standard. A 2. ble to any perceptual mode. T. and of the variance ( P = .05. 0.1 ml. Gen. For.. J .5 ml per 100 g o f mash. W e have had the opportunity to study Sighted adults and 3-year-old children. the amount 0. L.Repeatvolume was then increased to 0. R. Organic Chemicals Division. A 5. after 23 hours of o f a-pinene increased from 0. Landmarks: objects with a stick. B. 20M). basKroeze. R. J . monoterpene concentration (4). H. Mummul. 5.41 to 0. McKnight.S. Room layout gy. Co1umbu. Crouch. and 0. Davis 95616 the spatially guided locomotion o f one all blindfolded. she was guided by metric knowledge o f space. .' tant in choosing which ponderosa pine Present address: Cooperative Institute for Remonoterpenes.. Ed. Population.0-pl sample of the concentrated monoterpene was made up in concentrations of P = .013). J. D. Goodnight. Raleigh. 205-218. The concentrated extract was analyzed 9. cer~trations o f a-pinene caused tasselthe evaluation of amounts of each component in We thank J.0 p1 of n-tetradecane in n-heptane (200 p1 variance ( P = . K. and limonene were not sianifivarying amounts o f a-pinene (9). Each squirrel received five percent composition for the various components trials at each of the three concentration levels. He offered pene analysis. (SAS Institute.S. A series of experiments demonstrated that a congenitally blind 2'/r-yearable. indiunder liquid nitrogen. analysis. and the pentane was removed (micro not significant ( P > . trained routes.Spatial Knowledge and Geometric Representation in a specifics. I 1 SEPTEMBER 1981 0036-807518110911. D. Wuensch for their help with the well as the determination of the (relative) total study and A. A. Note R M 169 (1970). 213. Capretta and R. P < . Agric. test were compared with twigs from its counterpart the example o f a blind man exploring nonfeeding tree. E . University of Calij))rnia.accuracy. squirrels was investigated in another secated that a-pinene accounted for 29. those objects. amounts of all monoterpenes in each sample. is ing four objects in a small room. FARENTINOS*ppropriate path between two objects aJier traveling t o each of those objects from a a Department of Zoology. Keith. On each testina dav. Helwig and K. C. A.C. M . R.and sesquiterpenes). C. Pederson. J. and pheromonal cues may also Child Blind from Birth act as determinants in feeding tree selection i f the chemistry o f the tree is acceptAbstract. This task requires that the child detect the distances and the angular relationship qf the jamiliar paths and that she derive therefrom the angle of the new State University. old child-as well as sighted but blindfolded children and adults-can determine the R. The mash containing food consumption FF(2. Bull.3 to of approximately I00 : 1. statistical package [J.24. and limonene were lovved to choose between plain mash Na. 1979)]. P-pinene. The neighbor of the same age and size a s the feeding that the geometric principles underlying tree that did not show cvidence of squirrelroom measured 2.. 1095 (1970)l. possible synergisms between nutrients and combinations o f secondary compounds (mono.1 ml with ncant (P i ' .s 43210 P. 150 (1965). to address a classical issue in psycholoRe.$.006). ed-measures analysis o f variance indicatheptane. After the child had strate that the locomotion o f children. 803 (1979).5 percent of the laboratory food) and mash laced with of 10. R. vation o f further spatial information. Sturgeon. U.45 to a squirrel began to feed from either dish. Ohio third object. in SAS ences the choice o f food by tassel-eared 6. 1.5 percent transferred with 50 ml of distilled water. Jahnke for reading the manuThus the amount o f a-pinene is imporKovats' indices were determined on the glass scriot. may affect twig preferences are nutriMaarse and R. table. Fla. then both dishes were the exit end of the glass capillary column. 1532 (1977).5 ml of a-pinene per 100 g of extract with added internal standard was injected into a glass-lined injection port at a split ratio mash. Our research indicates that the locomotion ofthe young blind child is guided by Department o Psychology. e a c 6 squirrel was given two 0. presence o f con. P. J. the semipartials steam-distilled with n-pentane for 1 hour. Descartes (1) suggested experiment. KEPNER Department of Chemistry. Ohio 45056 muking inferences based on those properties. J. 61. J.0010 Copyright 0 1981 AAAS 1275 . M. again the semipartials for 3of C. U. Eds. R. Potter. J.05 m. an internal standard a-pinene accounting for 34. and mass spectra were obtained from the total essential oil with a Carbowax 20M search in Environmental Sciences and Departtrees are to be used as food sources by glass capillary column in a quadrupole gas chroment of Environmental. were 5 minutes at 65"C. and K. References and Notes able to move directly between the ob. Smith.72. VOL.44 caused defoliation was designated a s a nonfeedspatial knowledge are innate and accessim by 3. preferred the twigs that were lower in (1980). London. in PreferM. Similar results were Vigreaux column). 8. N. Patton. LITTLEFIELD21/2-year-old blind child in several ex. and J. Heo f food consumed decreased from 0.H. in 10 ml of C7H. T. A. In choice experiments and monoterlines. The removed and the amount of each type of food data were recorded on a Varian CDS-I I I chroco~~sumption 0. jects along paths she had never taken. R.lidean properties of a spatial layout and by principles j))r University.SO. These observations were undertaken 2. Miami University been taken along several paths connect.1 to 0. Department of Psychology. Note R M 272 (1974). 1979). 32 (1974). B-oinene. Contextual factors such as the visual appearance o f the trees. R.. C. D. Serv. B . flower seeds and 50 percent mouse food ed that the a-pinene content affected with dual-flame ionization detection and a 104-m (Charles River). with the MAXR option of the SAS The extent to which a-pinene influ38. mother. J .Littlefield.. 0. 734 7.Council. Kepner. M. discover the shapes and arrangement o f lows. el 1015C) with a model 6000 data system [H. SCIENCE. Tech. 3. pp. M. Farentinos. performed with similar V.3. and the carede. significant (Scheffe test. Oxjbrd. U. Evolution 33. V. twigs from a specific feeding tree solid lines. 14) = 3. preferred foodstuff. S. H.S. Other factors that matography-mass spectrometer (Finnigan modismic Biology.1. For. For the man to 4. Miami f knowledge. he must refer each tactual ket.) wa added. For the December data. Res. Wildl. which gave the area eaten was recorded. 'The drop in given 20 minutes to eat. P. of the Euc. CAPRETTA path.25). pilence Behuviour und Chemorrception. Presentation of data in this manner permitted Jacksonville. eased squirrels to reduce their intake o f a the samples relative to the internal standard a s Potter. and Organtassel-eared squirrels. Cooper. Food tional quality o f the cortical tissue and 23 October 1980 Chem.5 ml per 100 g was at matography data system. Dashed ing tree. Suooorted bv NSF grants BNS 76-05069 capillary Carbowax 20M column at 70°C for the and'^^^ '76.This knowledge makes possible the deri1. (Information Retrieval Limited. one contained 20 g of plain mash. The ries o f tests ia which subjects were alpentane extract was dried over anhydrous (SR2)for 3-carene. The oven conditions food deprivation. respectively. and isothermal thereafter. Munuge. it was lium make-up gas was supplied at 30 mllmin at 0. Berry. Green. E. the nearest edge o f space. a stepwise regression Radwan and G. one-tailed test]. Srrv. 5 ml of safflower oil was added glass capillary column coated with Carbowax to each 100 g of mash. ground to a powder. then increased 1" per the other 20 g of mash laced with a-pinene. z s ) .1275$01.with or without visual experience. C. Patton and W. Ecology 46.025. SCM Corporation. routes. Serv. Boulder 80302. Feeding trees were determined in the field by Fig. J. A.0-g sample of cortical tissue was frozen User's Guide. These observations demonperimental settings. the proportion food dishes. For.80423. University of Colorado. H.

faces the blind man's problem." Kelli was followed as she moved until she reached the goal or 9:PtoB 1276 10: B to P 11: p to B 12: B to P SCIENCE. Descartes's analysis can be contrasted with two major subsequent developments. Second. The room contained four landmarks in a diamond shaped array: her mother seated on a chair (M). a basket of toys (B). I). T. She is totally blind (5). and she might have thus determined the orientation of the object relative to the trained path. temporally extended encounters with those objects and with paths between them. Solid line. experimenter aided child. VOL. Descartes proposed that any perceiver.05 m. extending the arguments of British empiricism. Each time. In experiment 1. and must draw on tacit knowledge of geometry to solve it. and a table (T) (Fig. primarily in an isolette. she was brought into an unfam~liarlaboratory playroom. and B on her own. We have attempted to address these issues by extending Descartes's example. independent rnovernent by child: dashed line. from M to T and back. Helmholtz (-?). 2. and from M to B and back. by giving her such simple commands as "Go to the toybasket" or "Go to the pillows. Gibson (4) proposed that no geometric principles whatever need structure one's sensory impressions. 213 Fig. We then induced her to find the routes between P. twice. nonspatial inference rules. a child born 3 months prematurely and blinded shortly after birth as a result of retrolen- tal fibroplasia. twice. We investigated whether this child could make spatial deductions that rely on information about Euclidean angles and distances. Kelli felt the object while facing it. Kelli was discharged wlth a developmental status of newborn. exploring the world through any mode. We focused on the attempts of a young blind child to discover the spatial layout of objects in a room from limited. Our principal subject was Kelli. First. After spending the first 5 months in the hospital. . they cannot themselves be acquired through experience. Performance on test trials. When Kelli was 32 months old. Helmholtz suggested that the geometric principles underlying space perception can be acquired. Perceivers need be endowed only with a set of general. These arguments form part of the core of the rationalist tradition in psychology (2). Space perception depends on mechanisms that detect these relationships. twice.impression to a unitary spatial framework. structured by the principles of Euclidean geometry. a stack of pillows (P). 2. we placed her at M and walked her from there to P and back. rejected Descartes's claim of innateness.44 m by 3. They will deduce the principles of Euclidean geometry as they apply these inference rules to the sensory information that the environment provides. Descartes further reasoned that geometric principles must be innate: since those principles structure any perceptual experience. 'The spatial properties of objects are specified by higher-order relationships in spatially and temporally extended arrays of stimulation.

vol. Inhelder. The Child's Conception of Space (Norton.. and each trial was treated as a success if her final position fell within the 40" segment contaiining the target (which subtended an angle of about that magnitude). B-T. 1977) for an analysis In the Gibsonian tradition of the blind-man-withstick problem. and Gibsonian approaches. since her starting position varied on each trial. on only one of the eight trials could her direction of movement be accounted for by the orientation of the room. (Bobbs-Merrill. These geometries are empirically indistinguishable over the range of distances that humans can negotiate. using sense information. for a total of 12 trials. Kelli's performance on each test trial is shown in Fig. 5. They further indicate that vision plays no essential role in the early development of knowledge of such properties. In order to accomplish this. Shaw and J. Thus. but Kelli's actual performance was much higher: there were eight successes and f o ~ failures (binomial test. such a s topology and projective geometry. These experiments indicate that a young blind child is able to set a course between objects along a route she has never followed. Cambridge. She adjusted her direction toward the target on 11 trials. but it changed the absolute position of each object within the room. she would not have performed well. 1962. N. Critique of Pure Reason (Macmillan.61 m. For example.38). Kelli's level of accuracy after this rotation was close to what it had been before. 1929. we compared her frontal direction at the beginning of the interval to her position at the end of the interval and computed the average degrees of self-correction towa. New Essays Concerning Human Understanding (Open Court. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (Houghton-Mifflin. Kelli was carried out of the room. 7. We conclude that this blind child. The Perception of the Visual World (Houghton-Mifflin.expressed confusion. originally published in 1867). on trial 2. The random probability of success is . B-T. New York. know about some of the metric properties of space. P-T. W. Bransford. The Cartesian psychologist might propose that Euclidean geometry is innate. In the latter case. Acting. and the array of objects was rotated 90". C. She then received eight test trials with the rotated array. have been proposed to characterize the child's spatial knowledge. The Helmholtzian psychologist might propose that Euclidean principles can be induced in the first 2% years by a child who applies innate nonspatial inference rules to correlated patterns of sensation. Hillsdale. see J. 1979). 3. Indianapolis. the trial was ended. T-P. with a mean of 8.-P. H . A third experiment was conducted with five sighted 3-year-old children and six sighted adults. Discourse on Method. she seemed to adjust her movements. Its procedure was identical to that of experiment 1 with one exception: after the first six test trials. (Erlbaum. From this information. More important. 2. Furthermore. 1967. Kelli's performance might have been caused by the use of subtle acoustic cues to orient her toward the different landmarks. To test the null hypothesis that Kelli moved randomly to some stopping point. Other geometries. yielding the perception of further Euclidean relationships without producing a spatial representation to which inference rules are explicitly applied. Helmholtzian. and Riemannian geometries. and Knowing. such as the projective or topological. Had Kelli been moving constantly straight ahead. Philadelphia 19104 References and Notes 1. Shaw and J.I 1. See R.0008). Angle and distance information are properties that are preserved in metric geometries. The circle that surrounded her starting position was divided into nine 40" segments. since spatial information about the objects and about the room conflicted. Her route was plotted from a videotaped record by observing her position and frontal direction at 3-second intervals. 1966). Optics. N. ~r Two of the failures were errors of IS0 or less. The adult subjects performed somewhat better. Geometty.0001). T-B. Mass. she would be expected to move incorrectly between objects. B-P. Eds. a nonsignificant proportion (P = . 2. the Gibsonian psychologist might propose that the child made no inferences at all in our task. hyperbolic. orig- . Gibson. her actions may have been guided by a perceptual mechanism that detected invariant tactual relationships as she actively locomoted. from her starting position. 1965). Transl. New York. such as Euclidean geometry. P-B. Experiment 2 tested for this possibility. whereas those of the other geometries are not (7). Kelli was then carried back in and placed facing one of the objects. Kelli did not move ballistically toward the target. Boston. The Gibsonian burden is to provide a general characterization of the invariants that perceivers detect and of the mechanisms that detect them-a characterization that can encompass the performance of the blind child traveling along a limited set of paths. University of Pennsylvania. A young blind child exploring an environment was able to gain knowledge of certain spatial relationships between objects. Such a mechanism might be sensitive to Euclidean relationships. Treatise on Physiological Optics (Dover.2 successes in 12 trials. B-P. Olscamp. originally published in 1637). 3. P-T. J. Descartes. R. Finally. BARBARAANDAU L HENRY GLEITMAN ELIZABETHPELKE S Department of Psychology. in the following order: T-B. T. Kelli has been assessed yearly since the beginning of the study and does not show any significant deficiencies relative to norms for sighted or blind children. Moreover. The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (HoughtonMifflin. the child must have access to information about the lengths of the two connecting routes travelled during training and the angular separation of those routes. with a mean of 11. von Helmholtz. on trial 3. Piaget and B. Our findings do not distinguish conclusively between the Cartesian. she would have moved straight into T from her starting position. Kant. they are not properties of nonmetric geometries. Chomsky.rd the target for each trial. The accuracy of the child subjects was similar to that of Kelli. whether visual or nonvisual. J . She moved successfully to the target on five I I SEPTEMBER 1981 of eight trials (P = . Three different metric geometries could support the inferences of the blind child: Euclidean. At successive intervals of 0. as she went. P = . Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (MlT Press.. we measured her position just before reaching the target or before the trial was ended. in Perceiving. all of whom wore opaque goggles to block their vision of the room. I. Cases of severe prematurity are at risk for a variety of problems. Bransford.003) (6). the child can derive new angular relationships: the angular direction of one object from the other. the axioms and theorems of Euclidean geometry are sufficient for the derivation of the new angular information. and joining these points with a line representing her path of movement. originally published in 1704). 1965. The rotation preserved the spatial relationships among objects. 1950). 4. rather. she could use these relationships to derive further knowledge about the spatial properties of that layout. Our observations indicate that metric properties of space can be appreciated by children at an early age. if Kelli used acoustic information from the room as spatial landmarks or beacons. originally published in 1781). The burden of a Helmholtzian is to describe these rules and the learning processes that lead to the development of a Euclidean representation and its associated inference rules. P-B. Instead. The task is then to discover the psychologically appropriate axiomatization of that geometry and to characterize the processes of inference based on a Euclidean representation. J. 6. after moving to each object from a third point. R. Leibniz. New York.J. Each route was tested twice. and Meteorology P. Chicago. and sighted controls. she would have moved toward M from her starting position. towards the target. but they do help to sharpen the theoretical issues and clarify the empirical tasks facing proponents of each tradition. 1916. probably Euclidean properties.0 successes. and away from the target on 1 of the 12 trials (P = . and she was taken to the goal.

Using greater amounts of the dye. 1278 0036-807518110911-1278$01. and their density peaks at I". was injected (0. Gleit- man for extensive overall conceptual guidance. the green and red cone systems have similar electrophy siological and psychophysical properties. often by arterial perfu- Fig. Procion yellow M4RAN (Polysciences). L. not only are all cone outer segments stained with Procion yellow. however. (B) Tangential section passing through the outer limiting membrane showing a regular array of stained cones. in the amphibian retina. Courant and H. Intravitreal injection of aJluorescent dye. unstained cones and rods appear as holes in the stained mesh of the outer limiting membrane. and K. Carter Foundation grant. They are absent in the very center of the fovea. Congenital disorders of the green and red cone systems correspond to sexlinked inheritance. In some animals we also injected Lucifer yellow (Polysciences) ( 6 ) simultaneously with or subsequently to the Procion dye in a weight ratio of 1 : 50 to 1:100 of Lucifer to Procion yellow. indicating an undue vulnerability to retinal insult. R. What is Mathematics? (Oxford Univ. but not of rods. for focusing our attention on formal geometric analysis of our experiment. U." green-. but the entire soma of some cones is completely stained by the dye. VOL. Functionally. These geometries cannot support the inferences we have studied. New York.$his work was aided by a social and behavioral sciences research grant from the National Foundation-March of Dimes and a William T. 213. In 1970. Laties and Liebman (5) reported that the intravitreal injection of a tissue-reactive fluorescent dye. producing a Golgi-like silhouette. however. blue cones have unique properties. (A) Radial section of rhesus monkey retina (. Procion yellow. The eyes were fixed. I5 December 1980. Press. Procion yellow. There are also differences between dysfunctions of these cone systems leading to color vision disorders. Robbins. In addition. 8. and for suggesting a statistical analysis derived from the avian navigation literature. for they preserve no metric properties IR. The distribution of stained cones resembles that reported for blue-sensitive cones of other primates and. both to L." and "red-sensitive" cones. whereas those of the blue cone system correspond to autosoma1 inheritance (3). the animals were kept in a normal light (200 trolands): dark cycle for 18 to 30 hours (7). we have obtained a striking result. Feldman for running sighted contfol sub'ects and transcribing the videotaped sess~ons. To our knowledge. Gleitman. The neural retina is a highly organized structure with a crystalline-like array of tightly packed cones and rods in a twodimensional matrix. revised 22 May 1981 Staining of Blue-Sensitive Cones of the Macaque Retina by a Fluorescent Dye Abstract.15 ml) intravitreally into the eye of anesthetized rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys. R. 5 to 7 percent in deionized water. Such cones are organized in a rather regular array and have a characteristic retinal distribution. Gallistel. Microspectrophotometric work has provided evidence of three cone types in the primate retina. In the retina of the monkey. results in the complete and systematic staining of a cone population in the monkey retina. The animals were then killed with an overdose of pentobarbital. morphological differences among these cone types have not been reported in primates.0010 Copyright O 1981 AAAS SCIENCE. for suggesting important controls and variations on the basic experimental paradigm. We thank C.20' eccentricity) showing a cone completely stained by Procion yellow among other cones unstained except for their outer segments. blue cones are often involved in acquired color vision disorders secondary to reti- rial disease [K~llner's rule ( 4 ) ] . Leakage of dye was reduced by the slow removal of the needle. stained the outer segments of cones. These cones form an approximately regular array whose separation varies with retinal eccentricity. R. which was kept in the dark during and after the injection. Neisser for comments on a previous draft of this paper. each having peak sensitivity at a different part of the spectrum (1)-"blue-. Except for one monkey. whereas those of the blue cone system are different (2). consistent with such an identijication. In humans and (Old World) ma' 6 caque monkeys. 1. they are found with less incidence in species having lower concentrations of blue cones.inally published in 1948). I 1 SEPTEMBER 1981 . 1941)l.