[PS-2.4] Visuo-motor skills in deaf native signers

Stroh, A. 1 , Overvliet, K. 1, 2 , Rösler, F. 1 & Röder, B. 1

1 Universität Hamburg
2 Utrecht University

Previous studies have suggested that deafness could lead to deficits in motor skills and other body-related abilities. However, the literature regarding motor skills in deaf adults is scarce and most studies used samples that were heterogeneous regarding the etiology of deafness and the language background, thus making it difficult to delineate the effects of deafness. In this study we investigated motor learning in deaf native signers and hearing non-signers with a visuo-motor adaptation task. Both groups showed robust learning during the adaptation task where participants had to adapt their movement of the hand to a 30° rotation. Importantly, there were no differences between groups in the rate or the amount of adaptation. Following adaptation, memory retention and rate of forgetting were assessed during a block without visual feedback and did not differ between the groups. Finally, we compared savings - faster re-adaptation upon second exposure to the rotation - and did not find any differences in the rate of adaptation, nor in the amount of adaptation between the groups. This does not provide evidence for the hypothesis that deafness leads to deficits in motor skills and thus challenges the view that deafness results in deficits of body-related processing.