Sensory Substitution and Perceptual Learning

In Fiona Macpherson (ed.), Sensory Substitution and Augmentation. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract
When a user integrates a sensory substitution device into her life, the process involves perceptual learning, that is, ‘relatively long-lasting changes to an organism’s perceptual system that improve its ability to respond to its environment’ (Goldstone 1998: 585). In this paper, I explore ways in which the extensive literature on perceptual learning can be applied to help improve sensory substitution devices. I then use these findings to answer a philosophical question. Much of the philosophical debate surrounding sensory substitution devices concerns what happens after perceptual learning occurs. In particular, should the resultant perceptual experience be classified in the substituted modality (as vision), in the substituting modality (as auditory or tactile), or in a new sense modality? I propose a novel empirical test to help resolve this philosophical debate.
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Archival date: 2014-05-16
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