Author(s): Ward J, Wright T
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Abstract In this review we explore the relationship between synaesthesia and sensory substitution and argue that sensory substitution does indeed show properties of synaesthesia. Both are associated with atypical perceptual experiences elicited by the processing of a qualitatively different stimulus to that which normally gives rise to that experience. In the most common forms of sensory substitution, perceptual processing of an auditory or tactile signal (which has been converted from a visual signal) is experienced as visual-like in addition to retaining auditory/tactile characteristics. We consider different lines of evidence that support, to varying degrees, the assumption that sensory substitution is associated with visual-like experiences. We then go on to analyse the key similarities and differences between sensory substitution and synaesthesia. Lastly, we propose two testable predictions: firstly that, in an expert user of a sensory substitution device, the substituting modality should not be lost. Secondly that stimulation within the substituting modality, but by means other than a sensory substitution device, should still produce sensation in the normally substituted modality. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Neurosci Biobehav Rev
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation