Tactile discrimination of a set of Braille letters in sighted individuals: is it susceptible to interference by practice on a different set of letters? Eisawy, M 1 Dorfberger, S 1,2 & Karni, A 1 1 University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. 2 Gordon College of Education, Haifa, Israel.
Introduction <ul><li>Previous studies of motor skill acquisition have shown that a single training-session can result in well-retained performance gains. </li></ul><ul><li>The retention of training-dependent performance gains may be lost or markedly reduced by the introduction of a subsequent training experience. It is not known whether Braille letter discrimination learning is susceptible to interference. </li></ul>
Methods 26 students were randomly assigned into three experimental groups (Short or Long-training and learning with Interference) for discrimination training, blindfolded, with sets of standard Braille letter-pairs. Participants were trained on Day 1 and retested 24-hours later. Participants were asked to report whether the target stimuli were identical or different from each other.
Results There were significant within-session gains in speed and accuracy in all three groups.
Results <ul><li>Somewhat unexpectedly, in the interference group, there was continuous improvement in the tactile discrimination task from the first to a subsequent letter-pair, i.e., the learning continued although the testing stimuli were changed. </li></ul><ul><li>All participants showed transfer of training-gains from the trained to new pairs of Braille letters 24-hours post-training. </li></ul>
Conclusion The nature of the specific Braille letters used in training is of secondary importance in initial phases of training – participants continue to improve even when letter-pairs are changed midway in the training experience.
Conclusion It is proposed that in the early sessions, participants learn general perceptual-motor task and stimulus aspects, shared by all Braille letters. These results may contribute to the design of effective training protocols for Braille reading.