It is well known that people who read print or braille sometimes make eye or finger movements against the reading direction. The way these regressions are elicited has been studied in detail by manipulating linguistic aspects of the reading material. Actually, it has been shown that reducing the physical intensity or clarity of the visual input signal can also lead to increased regressions during reading. We asked whether the same might be true in the haptic realm while reading braille. We set the height of braille dots at three different levels (high, medium, and low) and asked adult blind, practiced braille readers to read standardized texts without any repetition of content. The results show that setting the braille dot height near the tactile threshold significantly increased the frequency of regressive finger movements. Additionally, at the lowest braille dot height, braille reading speed significantly diminished. These effects did not occur at braille dot heights that were closer to the height of standard braille (medium and high). We tentatively conclude that this effect may be due to a heightened sense of uncertainty elicited by perception near the threshold that seems to be common to the reading process, independent of the sensory input modality. Furthermore, the described effect may be a feature of a brain area that contributes to the reading process mediated by vision as well as touch.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Publication: PLOS ONE, Volume 14, p.1-17 (2019)