What factors are important in the calibration of mental representations of auditory space? A substantial body of research investigating the audiospatial abilities of people who are blind has shown that visual experience might be an important factor for accurate performance in some audiospatial tasks. Yet, it has also been shown that long-term experience using click-based echolocation might play a similar role, with blind expert echolocators demonstrating auditory localization abilities that are superior to those of people who are blind and who do not use click-based echolocation by Vercillo et al. (Neuropsychologia 67: 35–40, 2015). Based on this hypothesis we might predict that training in click-based echolocation may lead to improvement in performance in auditory localization tasks in people who are blind. Here we investigated this hypothesis in a sample of 12 adult people who have been blind from birth. We did not find evidence for an improvement in performance in auditory localization after 10 weeks of training despite significant improvement in echolocation ability. It is possible that longer-term experience with click-based echolocation is required for effects to develop, or that other factors can explain the association between echolocation expertise and superior auditory localization. Considering the practical relevance of click-based echolocation for people who are visually impaired, future research should address these questions.
Thaler, L., & Norman, L. J. (2021). No effect of 10-week training in click-based echolocation on auditory localization in people who are blind. Experimental Brain Research, 239(12), 3625-3633. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-021-06230-5
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