Tactile Localization on Digits and Hand: Structure and Development

Takashi Yoshioka, Moira R. Dillon, Graham C. Beck, Brenda Rapp, Barbara Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Localization of tactile stimuli to the hand and digits is fundamental to somatosensory perception. However, little is known about the development or genetic bases of this ability in humans. We examined tactile localization in normally developing children, adolescents, and adults and in people with Williams syndrome (WS), a genetic disorder resulting in a wide range of severe visual-spatial deficits. Normally developing 4-year-olds made large stimulus-localization errors, sometimes across digits, but nevertheless their errors revealed a structured internal representation of the hand. In normally developing individuals, errors became exponentially smaller over age, reaching the adult level by adolescence. In contrast, people with WS showed large localization errors regardless of age and a significant proportion of cross-digit errors, a profile similar to that of normally developing 4-year-olds. Thus, tactile localization reflects internal organization of the hand even early in normal development, undergoes substantial development in normal children, and is susceptible to developmental, but not organizational, impairment under genetic deficit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1653-1663
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Williams syndrome
  • developmental disorders
  • parietal lobe
  • spatial perception
  • visual-spatial ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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