Cognitive and neural plasticity and the subjective experience. Interdisciplinary analysis of sensory substitution.

The aim of the research project is to identify the cognitive and neural mechanisms engaged in the formation of the subjective experience of sensory substitution (SS). We plan to focus on three main research problems: 1) subjective experience of SS characteristics (we plan to investigate how participants experience visual information through SS devices); 2) neuronal consequences of SS (we plan to test the functional reorganisation of the brain engaged in SS with magnetic resonance); The project will investigate how the substituted information provided by three SS devices (BrainPort, Enactive Torch, Colorophone) is experienced and how it can be integrated. In the first phase of the project we will develop behavioural procedures (such as shape or colour identification tasks). In the second phase of the project we plan to apply these tasks in a single research group over a series of meetings. Each person will take part in approximately one two-hour study every two weeks throughout the year. The participants will be tested individually. This part of the project will be preceded by an MRI scan (RS fMRI, DTI, T1). Throughout the second phase of the project, participants will perform a variety of SS device-based tasks.

The project realisation will affect the development of the SS research domain as we propose a systematic empirical study that investigates aspects of SS that were either discussed only on a theoretical level (e.g. phenomenology of SS, SS and interaction with the environment) or were not discussed at all (e.g. integration of the signals delivered by more than one of the SS device). We aim to propose a research paradigm that will allow us to test theories investigating the cognitive and neuronal underpinnings of the formation of conscious perceptual experience. In the longer term, the project may also influence studies on SS in the blind population and influence the everyday life of blind people. This is because the integration of the information provided by three SS devices will help develop an SS system that integrates the advantages of individual SS devices.


  • dr Magdalena Reuter
  • mgr Paweł Gwiaździński
  • mgr Katarzyna Hat
  • mgr inż. Patrycja Bizoń