Auditory Sensory Substitution is Intuitive and Automatic with Texture Stimuli.

Abstract:

:Millions of people are blind worldwide. Sensory substitution (SS) devices (e.g., vOICe) can assist the blind by encoding a video stream into a sound pattern, recruiting visual brain areas for auditory analysis via crossmodal interactions and plasticity. SS devices often require extensive training to attain limited functionality. In contrast to conventional attention-intensive SS training that starts with visual primitives (e.g., geometrical shapes), we argue that sensory substitution can be engaged efficiently by using stimuli (such as textures) associated with intrinsic crossmodal mappings. Crossmodal mappings link images with sounds and tactile patterns. We show that intuitive SS sounds can be matched to the correct images by naive sighted participants just as well as by intensively-trained participants. This result indicates that existing crossmodal interactions and amodal sensory cortical processing may be as important in the interpretation of patterns by SS as crossmodal plasticity (e.g., the strengthening of existing connections or the formation of new ones), especially at the earlier stages of SS usage. An SS training procedure based on crossmodal mappings could both considerably improve participant performance and shorten training times, thereby enabling SS devices to significantly expand blind capabilities.

journal_name

Sci Rep

journal_title

Scientific reports

authors

Stiles NR,Shimojo S

doi

10.1038/srep15628

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2015-10-22 00:00:00

pages

15628

issn

2045-2322

pii

srep15628

journal_volume

5

pub_type

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