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Sensory Substitution and Augmentation$
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Fiona Macpherson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266441

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266441.001.0001

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What Can Sensory Substitution Tell Us about the Organization of the Brain?

What Can Sensory Substitution Tell Us about the Organization of the Brain?

(p.94) 6 What Can Sensory Substitution Tell Us about the Organization of the Brain?
Sensory Substitution and Augmentation

Sarah Hillenbrand

Dina Raveh

Amir Amedi

, Fiona Macpherson
British Academy

We discuss how sensory substitution devices (SSDs) can be used to study the organization of the brain. To do so we look at the use of SSDs in the blind and how SSDs can be used to identify sensory-dependent and sensory-independent brain function. Cross-modal interactions may represent new patterns of connectivity or the unmasking of pre-existing associations. We show how the blind brain can be a window into cross-modal plasticity and can dissociate intrinsic and experience-dependent brain functions. We argue that the brain is a sensory-independent task machine and explain the implications for the rehabilitation of blind people.

Keywords:   sensory substitution, brain organization, brain function, blind, cross-modal, plasticity, experience-dependent, rehabilitation, sensory independence

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