Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sensory substitution, plasticity, and extended consciousness

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Paper by Julian Kiverstein & Mirko Farina - University of Edinburgh

Sensory substitution, plasticity, and extended consciousness

{{de|Phrenologie}}Consider for instance a blind perceiver that has undergone training with a TVSS device so that he can use the device to perceive objects in his surrounding environment. The TVSS device produces activation in somatosensory cortex. After training however the perceiver doesn’t consciously feel the tactile stimulation the device is producing. Instead he undergoes experiences that in some way resemble vision.
We will argue that the perceiver does undergo some change in experience as a consequence of using the sensory substitution device (SSD), but we agree that is may be problematic to call it visual. Instead we will argue that SSDs make possible a new variety of experience only available to a perceiver trained up to use a sensory substitution device. ...

My excited (and probably naive) comment:

Astonishing. Could this be a way to study how new perception systems can come into being? An intermediary evolutionary step, for instance? First there was smell, then touch, then hearing, then vision, etc. Is this a framework to study how these each came online as a full featured system of perception?

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