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[answered] access to social signals (e., facial expressions, eye gaze,


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access to social signals (e.g., facial expressions, eye gaze,

 

body gestures) ? visual aesthetics (e.g., sunset, beauty of

 

a face, visual art) ? Some functions of audition = potential

 

goals for sensory substitution ? access to signals and

 

alarms (e.g., ringing phone, fire alarm) ? access to natural

 

sounds of the environment ? access to denotative

 

content of speech ? access to expressive content of

 

speech ? aesthetic response to music An analytic

 

approach to using one sensory modality (henceforth, the

 

?receiving modality?) to take over a function normally

 

performed by another is to (1) identify what optical,

 

acoustic, or other information (henceforth, the ?source

 

information?) is most effective in enabling that function

 

and (2) to determine how to transform the source

 

information into sensory signals that are effectively

 

coupled to the receiving modality. The first step requires

 

research to identify the source information necessary to

 

perform a function or range of functions. Take, for

 

example, the function of obstacle avoidance. A person

 

walking through a cluttered environment is able to avoid

 

bumping into obstacles, usually by using vision under

 

sufficient lighting. Precisely what visual information or

 

other form of information (e.g., ultrasonic, radar) best 218 C. Improving Human Health and Physical Capabilities

 

affords obstacle avoidance? Once one has identified the

 

best information to use, one is then in a position to

 

address the second step. Sensory Substitution: Coupling

 

the Required Information to the Receiving Modality

 

Coupling the source information to the receiving

 

modality actually involves two different issues: sensory

 

bandwidth and the specificity of higher-level

 

representation. After research has determined the

 

information needed to perform a task, it must be

 

determined whether the sensory bandwidth of the

 

receiving modality is adequate to receive this

 

information. Consider the idea of using the tactile sense

 

to substitute for vision in the control of locomotion, such

 

as driving. Physiological and psychophysical research

 

reveals that the sensory bandwidth of vision is much

 

greater than the bandwidth of the tactile sense for any

 

circumscribed region of the skin (Loomis and Lederman

 

1986). Thus, regardless of how optical information is

 

transformed for display onto the skin, it seems unlikely

 

that the bandwidth of tactile processing is adequate to

 

allow touch to substitute for this particular function. In

 

contrast, other simpler functions, such as detecting the presence of a bright flashing alarm signal, can be feasibly

 

accomplished using tactile substitution of vision. Even if

 

the receiving modality has adequate sensory bandwidth

 

to accommodate the source information, this is no

 

guarantee that sensory substitution will be successful,

 

because the higher-level processes of vision, hearing, and

 

touch are highly specialized for the information that

 

typically comes through those modalities. A nice example

 

of this is the difficulty of using vision to substitute for

 

hearing in deaf people. Even though vision has greater

 

sensory bandwidth than hearing, there is yet no

 

successful way of using vision to substitute for hearing in

 

the reception of the raw acoustic signal (in contrast to

 

sign language, which involves the production of visual

 

symbols by the speaker). Evidence of this is the

 

enormous challenge in deciphering an utterance

 

represented by a speech spectrogram. There is the

 

celebrated case of Victor Zue, an engineering professor

 

who is able to translate visual speech spectrograms into

 


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