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Blind people develop accurate mental map by playing 'video' game

PLOS

Researchers have developed a new "video" game for blind people that can help them learn about a new space using only audio cues, as reported Sep. 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

The system, developed by a team led by Lotfi Merabet of Harvard Medical School and Jaime Sánchez of the University of Chile, is called the Audiobased Environment Simulator and uses only audio-based cues to allow blind users to learn about the layout of a previously unfamiliar building.

After playing the game, participants were better able to navigate a real-world version of the space explored in the virtual reality environment, confirming that the spatial information learned in the game was accurate and transferrable.

"Learning through such interactive games represents an innovative and motivating way to improve crucial skills that allow blind individuals to remain functionally independent", says Merabet.

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Financial Disclosure: National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute grant RO1 EY019924 to LBM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation: Merabet LB, Connors EC, Halko MA, Sa´nchez J (2012) Teaching the Blind to Find Their Way by Playing Video Games. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44958. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044958

PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT

http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044958

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