Crossmodal plasticity revealed by sensory devices shows change only in the“spatiality” of experience, not sensory experience

Document Type: 
ASSC Conference Item
Article Type: 
Neural Plasticity, Crossmodal Perception, Sensory Substitution Devices, Cortical Processing
Deposited by: 
Mr. Brian Glenney
Date of Issue: 
Brian Glenney
Event Dates: 
June 2006
Event Location: 
Oxford, England
Event Title: 
10th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Event Type: 
ASSC Conference
Presentation Type: 
Number of Pages: 
Sensory deficits like blindness and sensory devices like inverted goggles reveal crossmodal plasticity; functional and structural change across sensory systems in the brain due to stimulus change. Here are two questions in response to this phenomenon: 1)In what way does crossmodal plasticity affect sensory experience? 2)Does stimulus change or functional/structural change lead to changes in sensory experience? I argue in answer to (1) that crossmodal plasticity does not lead to a difference in sense experience, such as the somatosensory cortex giving rise to visual experience, as has been argued by Noe and Hurley (2003) but leads to a change in spatial experience, such as the somatosensory cortex giving rise to the experience of distal objects. In answer to (2) I argue that the novelty of the perception of distal stimuli by touch brings about the reported novelty of experience when using a sensory devices. Furthermore, I speculate that, given the evidence that the visual cortex is recruited in such tasks and that there is no change in sensory experience, that the recruitment of the visual cortex is for functional purposes, providing extra processing support for interpreting the novel distal stimuli acquired by touch.
crossmodalplasticityspatialletter.pdf133.3 KB