Rewired animals and sensory substitution: the cause is not cortical plasticity

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Cortical plasticity is often invoked to explain changes in the quality or location of experience observed in rewired animals, in sensory substitution, in extension of the body through tool use, and in the rubber hand illusion. However this appeal to cortical plasticity may be misleading, because it suggest that the cortical areas that are plastic are themselves the loci of generation of experience. This would be an error, I claim, since cortical areas do not generate experience. Cortical areas participate in enabling the interaction of an agent with its environment, and the quality of this interaction constitutes the quality of experience. Thus it is not plasticity in itself, but the change in modes of interaction which plasticity allows, which gives rise to the change of experience observed in these studies.
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Archival date: 2019-07-29
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