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Title: Complexity, the auditory system, and perceptual learning in naïve users of a visual-to-auditory sensory substitution device
Author: Brown, David J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 5572
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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Sensory substitution devices are a non-invasive visual prostheses that use sound or touch to aid functioning in the blind. Algorithms informed by natural crossmodal correspondences convert and transmit sensory information attributed to an impaired modality back to the user via an unimpaired modality and utilise multisensory networks to activate visual areas of cortex. While behavioural success has been demonstrated in non-visual tasks suing SSDs how they utilise a metamodal brain, organised for function is still a question in research. While imaging studies have shown activation of visual cortex in trained users it is likely that naïve users rely on auditory characteristics of the output signal for functionality and that it is perceptual learning that facilitates crossmodal plasticity. In this thesis I investigated visual-to-auditory sensory substitution in naïve sighted users to assess whether signal complexity and processing in the auditory system facilitates and limits simple recognition tasks. In four experiments evaluating; signal complexity, object resolution, harmonic interference and information load I demonstrate above chance performance in naïve users in all tasks, an increase in generalized learning, limitations in recognition due to principles of auditory scene analysis and capacity limits that hinder performance. Results are looked at from both theoretical and applied perspectives with solutions designed to further inform theory on a multisensory perceptual brain and provide effective training to aid visual rehabilitation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Queen Mary University of London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computer Science ; Assistive technology ; Accessible technology ; Visually-impaired ; Audio computer output ; Visual-to-auditory sensory substitution ; Blind computer users