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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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Sensory Substitution and Perceptual Learning

Sensory Substitution and Perceptual Learning

(p.236) 14 Sensory Substitution and Perceptual Learning
Sensory Substitution and Augmentation

Kevin Connolly

, Fiona Macpherson
British Academy

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’. In this chapter, 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.

Keywords:   sensory substitution, perceptual learning, sensory substitution devices, integration

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