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Full Access Interpreting sensory substitution beyond the perceptual assumption: An analogy with reading

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Interpreting sensory substitution beyond the perceptual assumption: An analogy with reading

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) aim at replacing or assisting one or several functions of a deficient sensory modality by means of another sensory modality. Despite the numerous studies and research programs devoted to their development and integration, SSDs have failed to live up to their goal of allowing one to ‘see with the skin’ (White et al., 1970) or to ‘see with the brain’ (Bach-y-Rita et al., 2003). These somewhat peremptory claims, as well as the research conducted so far, are based on an implicit perceptual paradigm. Such perceptual assumption accepts the equivalence between using a SSD and perceiving through a particular sensory modality. Our aim is to provide an alternative model, which defines the integration of SSDs as being closer to culturally-implemented cognitive extensions of existing perceptual skills such as reading. In this talk, we will show why the analogy with reading provides a better explanation of the actual findings, that is, both of the positive results achieved and of the limitations noticed across the field of research on SSDs. The parallel with the most recent two-route and interactive models of reading (e.g., Dehaene et al., 2005) generates a radically new way of approaching these results, by stressing the dependence of integration on the existing perceptual-semantic route. In addition, it enables us to generate innovative research questions and specific predictions which set the stage for future work.

Affiliations: 1: 1Laboratoire d’Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l’Ingénieur, FR; 2: 2Centre for the Study of the Senses, School of Advanced Study, University of London, GB

Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) aim at replacing or assisting one or several functions of a deficient sensory modality by means of another sensory modality. Despite the numerous studies and research programs devoted to their development and integration, SSDs have failed to live up to their goal of allowing one to ‘see with the skin’ (White et al., 1970) or to ‘see with the brain’ (Bach-y-Rita et al., 2003). These somewhat peremptory claims, as well as the research conducted so far, are based on an implicit perceptual paradigm. Such perceptual assumption accepts the equivalence between using a SSD and perceiving through a particular sensory modality. Our aim is to provide an alternative model, which defines the integration of SSDs as being closer to culturally-implemented cognitive extensions of existing perceptual skills such as reading. In this talk, we will show why the analogy with reading provides a better explanation of the actual findings, that is, both of the positive results achieved and of the limitations noticed across the field of research on SSDs. The parallel with the most recent two-route and interactive models of reading (e.g., Dehaene et al., 2005) generates a radically new way of approaching these results, by stressing the dependence of integration on the existing perceptual-semantic route. In addition, it enables us to generate innovative research questions and specific predictions which set the stage for future work.

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1. Bach-y-Rita P. , Tyler M. E. , Kaczmarek K. A. ( 2003). "Seeing with the brain", International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction Vol 2, 285295. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S15327590IJHC1502_6
2. Dehaene S. , Cohen L. , Sigman M. , Vinckier F. ( 2005). "The neural code for written words: a proposal", Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol 9, 335341. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2005.05.004
3. White B. W. , Saunders F. A. , Scadden L. , Bach-y-Rita P. , Collins C. C. ( 1970). "Seeing with the skin", Perception & Psychophysics Vol 7, 2327. http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/BF03210126
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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x647748
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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