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The Sound of Vision Project: On the Feasibility of an Audio-Haptic Representation of the Environment, for the Visually Impaired

By Ómar I. Jóhannesson, Oana Balan, Runar Unnthorsson, Alin Moldoveanu and Árni Kristjánsson


The Sound of Vision project involves developing a sensory substitution device that is aimed at creating and conveying a rich auditory representation of the surrounding environment to the visually impaired. However, the feasibility of such an approach is strongly constrained by neural flexibility, possibilities of sensory substitution and adaptation to changed sensory input. We review evidence for such flexibility from various perspectives. We discuss neuroplasticity of the adult brain with an emphasis on functional changes in the visually impaired compared to sighted people. We discuss effects of adaptation on brain activity, in particular short-term and long-term effects of repeated exposure to particular stimuli. We then discuss evidence for sensory substitution such as Sound of Vision involves, while finally discussing evidence for adaptation to changes in the auditory environment. We conclude that sensory substitution enterprises such as Sound of Vision are quite feasible in light of the available evidence, which is encouraging regarding such projects

Topics: visually impaired people, brain plasticity, adaptation, sensory substitution, training, Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry, RC321-571
Publisher: MDPI AG
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.3390/brainsci6030020
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