The plasticity of neural network sensorysubstitution object shape recognition

Ella Striem-Amit, Ornella Dakwar, Uri Hertz, Peter Meijer, William Stern, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Amir Amedi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In sensory substitution devices (SSDs), visual information captured by an artificial receptor is delivered to the brain using non-visual sensory information. Using an auditory-to-visual SSD called “The vOICe” we previously reported that blind individuals perform successfully on object recognition tasks and are able to recruit specific ventral ‘visual’ structures for shape recognition using the device (i.e., through soundscapes). Comparable recruitment was also observed in sighted individuals learning to use this device. Here we directly compare a group of seven subjects who learned to perform object recognition via soundscapes and a group of seven subjects who learned arbitrary associations between sounds and object identity. We contrast these two groups’ brain activity for object recognition using SSD, and for auditory object and scrambled object soundscapes. We show that the most critical structures specific for shape extraction for the purpose of object recognition are the left Pre-Central Sulcus (PCS) and the bilateral Lateral-Occipital Complex (LOC). We also found significant activation in the occipitoparietal and posterior occipital cortex not previously observed using a smaller sample of subjects. These results support the notion that interactions between visual structures and a network of additional areas, specifically in prefrontal cortex (PCS) might underlie the machinery which is most critical for achieving multisensory or metamodal shape recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuroplasticity in Learning and Rehabilitation
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781634843065
ISBN (Print)9781634843058
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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