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. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000888