Tactile Acuity of Young and Old Pianists [Minnesota Lab for Low-Vision Research, 2019]



A previous study from our lab demonstrated retention of high tactile acuity throughout the lifespan in blind subjects in contrast to the typical decline found for sighted subjects (Legge, Madison, Vaughn, Cheong & Miller, 2008). We hypothesize that preserved tactile acuity in old age is due to lifelong experience with focused attention to touch and not to blindness per se. Proficient pianists devote attention to touch--fingerings and dynamics--over years of practice. To test our hypothesis, we measured tactile acuity in groups of young and old normally sighted pianists and compared their results to the blind and sighted subjects in our 2008 study. The pianists, like the subjects in 2008, were tested on two tactile-acuity charts requiring active touch, one composed of embossed Landolt rings and the other composed of dot patterns similar to braille. For both tests, the pianists performed more like the blind subjects than the sighted subjects from our 2008 study. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that lifelong experience with focused attention to touch acts to preserve tactile acuity into old age for both blind and sighted subjects. We now release the data we collected in the 2008 study and the new study for sharing and replication purposes.

Two files are included: The Tactile_Acuity_Data.csv is the main dataset for the project. The Readme.txt provides descriptions of the data and information about data collection.

Funding information
Sponsorship: This research was supported by NIH Grant EY002934 and a grant from the Helen Keller Foundation.
Date made available2019
PublisherData Repository for the University of Minnesota
Date of data production2016 - 2017

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