Arno P, Capelle C, Wanet-Defalque M-C, Catalan-Ahumada M, Veraart C, 1999, "Auditory coding of visual patterns for the blind" Perception 28(8) 1013 – 1029
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Auditory coding of visual patterns for the blind
Patricia Arno, Christian Capelle, Marie-Chantal Wanet-Defalque, Mitzi Catalan-Ahumada, Claude Veraart
Received 3 January 1997, in revised form 21 June 1999
Abstract. Recognition tasks of simple visual patterns have been used to assess an early visual - auditory sensory-substitution system, consisting of the coupling of a rough model of the human retina with an inverse model of the cochlea, by means of a pixel - frequency relationship. The potential advantage of the device, compared with previous ones, is to give the blind the ability to both localise and recognise visual patterns. Four evaluation sessions assessed the performance of twenty-four blindfolded sighted subjects using the device. Subjects had to recognise twenty-five visual patterns, one at a time, using a head-mounted small camera and interpreting the corresponding sounds given by the device. Half the subjects were trained by means of a correction feedback procedure during ten one-hour training sessions embedded in between the evaluation sessions. Results revealed extremely successful training effects. Performance of trained subjects significantly increased with practice compared with the untrained control group. The improvement was also observed for new patterns, demonstrating a learning-process generalisation. The negative correlation observed between scores and processing time showed that the subjects' response accuracy was related to their speed. In conclusion, simple pattern recognition is possible with a fairly natural vision-to-audition coding scheme, given the possibility for the subjects to have sensory - motor interactions while using the device.
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