Archive for January 18th, 2015

January 18, 2015

Sensory Substitution

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Sensory substitution means to transform the characteristics of one sensory modality (e.g. light, sound, temperature, taste, pressure, smell) into stimuli of another sensory modality (e.g. Tactile–Visual, converting video footage into into tactile information, such as vibration). These systems can help handicapped people by restoring their ability to perceive aspects of a defective physical sense.

A sensory substitution system consists of three parts: a sensor, a coupling system, and a stimulator. The sensor records stimuli and gives them to a coupling system which interprets the signals and transmits them to a stimulator. If the sensor obtains signals of a kind not originally available to the bearer it is called ‘sensory augmentation’ (e.g. implanting magnets under the fingertips imparts magnetoception, sensation of electromagnetic fields). Sensory substitution is based on research in human perception (the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment) and neuroplasticity (how entire brain structures, and the brain itself, can change from experience).

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