Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Perceptual constancy with a novel sensory skill

Norman, Liam J.; Thaler, Lore

Perceptual constancy with a novel sensory skill Thumbnail



Making sense of the world requires perceptual constancy—the stable perception of an object across changes in one’s sensation of it. To investigate whether constancy is intrinsic to perception, we tested whether humans can learn a form of constancy that is unique to a novel sensory skill (here, the perception of objects through click-based echolocation). Participants judged whether two echoes were different either because: (a) the clicks were different, or (b) the objects were different. For differences carried through spectral changes (but not level changes), blind expert echolocators spontaneously showed a high constancy ability (mean d′ = 1.91) compared to sighted and blind people new to echolocation (mean d′ = 0.69). Crucially, sighted controls improved rapidly in this ability through training, suggesting that constancy emerges in a domain with which the perceiver has no prior experience. This provides strong evidence that constancy is intrinsic to human perception.


Norman, L. J., & Thaler, L. (2021). Perceptual constancy with a novel sensory skill. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 47(2), 269-281.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 9, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 3, 2020
Publication Date 2021-02
Deposit Date Jan 13, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 17, 2021
Journal Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Print ISSN 0096-1523
Electronic ISSN 0096-1523
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 2
Pages 269-281


Published Journal Article (571 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Com-mons Attribution License (,which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations