Early psychological studies on touch in France

  • Yvette Hatwell
  • Edouard Gentaz


In France, early psychological studies on touch belong to two domains which developed quite independently in the 18th, 19th and the first part of the 20th century. The first one concerned speculative (philosophical) and/or informal considerations made by practitioners and observers on the functioning of touch in early blind people, and more incidentally in cognitively impaired children. In the middle of the 19th century, studies on blindness led to the major invention by Louis Braille (1829 and 1837) of the raised-dot alphabet, universally used today, which allows early blind persons to have tactually access to written culture. The second trend is scientific and experimental. In the 19th century, this research concerned mainly the anatomy and physiology of somesthetic sensory receptors, neural pathways and cortical projections. Simultaneously, the methodological bases for experimental sciences were established.


Experimental Psychology Blind People Historical Aspect Roman Letter Blind Child 
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Selected readings

  1. Diderot D (1749/1972) Lettre sur les aveugles à ľusage de ceux qui voient. Paris: Garnier-FlammarionGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvette Hatwell
    • 1
  • Edouard Gentaz
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition (UMR 5105 CNRS)Université Pierre Mendès-FranceGrenoble Cedex 9France

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