Does visual experience influence arm proprioception and its lateralization? Evidence from passive matching performance in congenitally-blind and sighted adults

  • Abi Chebel Najib
  • Gaunet Florence
  • Chavet Pascale
  • Assaiante Christine
  • Bourdin Christophe
  • Sarlegna Fabrice

  • Visual impairment
  • Early blind
  • Kinesthesia
  • Somatosensory feedback
  • Laterality
  • Elbow
  • Wrist
  • Upper limb


In humans, body segments' position and movement can be estimated from multiple senses such as vision and proprioception. It has been suggested that vision and proprioception can influence each other and that upper-limb proprioception is asymmetrical, with proprioception of the non-dominant arm being more accurate and/or precise than proprioception of the dominant arm. However, the mechanisms underlying the lateralization of proprioceptive perception are not yet understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that early visual experience influences the lateralization of arm proprioceptive perception by comparing 8 congenitally-blind and 8 matched, sighted right-handed adults. Their proprioceptive perception was assessed at the elbow and wrist joints of both arms using an ipsilateral passive matching task. Results support and extend the view that proprioceptive precision is better at the non-dominant arm for blindfolded sighted individuals. While this finding was rather systematic across sighted individuals, proprioceptive precision of congenitally-blind individuals was not lateralized as systematically, suggesting that lack of visual experience during ontogenesis influences the lateralization of arm proprioception.