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Sensory Integration and the Unity of Consciousness$
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David J. Bennett and Christopher S. Hill

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027786

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027786.001.0001

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Establishing Cross-Modal Mappings:

Establishing Cross-Modal Mappings:

Empirical and Computational Investigations

(p.171) 8 Establishing Cross-Modal Mappings
Sensory Integration and the Unity of Consciousness

Pawan Sinha

Jonas Wulff

Richard Held

The MIT Press

Whether the world of a newborn is chaotic, with distinct characteristics of sensory modalities, or whether there is order and shared properties between signals lies at the heart of Molyneux’s famous question. In this chapter, Pawan Sinha, Jonas Wulff, and Richard Held report on two aspects of this question. First, empirical data from a humanitarian effort in India that provides sight to congenitally blind children suggest that shape representations across sensory modalities are initially disparate, but that, within a few weeks after vision onset, a cross-modal mapping can be established through experience with the real world. Second, investigating the mechanisms through which such a mapping might arise, this chapter suggests that it can be established through correlations in the temporal dimension of a signal. Using stimuli similar to those a newborn would typically encounter, it is demonstrated that cross-model correlations can be reliably extracted from audio-visual stimuli, even under severe degradations and signal mis-alignments.

Keywords:   Molyneux’s question, Cross-modal mappings, Temporal correlation, Sensory coherence, Congenital blindness, Computational model

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