2014 Clavius Distinguished Lecture
Fordham University Department of Computer and Information Science
Sensory Substitution, Multisensory Plasticity, and the Third Kind of “Qualia”
A multidisciplinary presentation for scientists, artists, engineers, and social scientists.
Thursday, 27 March 2014 | 1 p.m.
Flom Auditorium | Walsh Library | Rose Hill Campus
Reception to follow
Presenter: Shinsuke Shimojo
Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology
Division of Biology and Computation and Neural Systems
California Institute of Technology
Shinsuke Shimojo is currently the Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology in the division of
and neural systems at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in 1985
and has written for more than 150 prestigious journals, including Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron,
and Proceedings of
National Academy of Science. He is also a science columnist at Asahi digital RONZA, and has collaborated with
artists on science museum
Dr. Shimojo is the recipient of several awards, including the 2004 Japanese Neuroscience Society Tokizane
Memorial Award, the 2008 Most
Innovating Research Award from the Japanese Society of Cognitive Science, and the Santory Prize for Publications
in Humanity and Social Sciences.
The Shimojo Laboratory studies the human brain and our ability to perceive objects and respond to them
adaptively, developing new psychophysical
and cognitive neuroscientific models, particularly in areas of vision, perception, and decision-making.
“Qualia” to some refers to the absolute, unique quality of a conscious sensory experience, which may not be
explained away by neurophysiology.
Whereas we do not endorse the qualia as a “hard” (i.e. impossible in principle) problem for science, we still
agree that the current sensory sciences
fail to critically characterize such unique quality of sensory experiences. We aim to find insights in the
latest progresses of sensory substitution.
The “vOICe” is one of such devices translating visual into auditory inputs for blind people. There are some
super users who claim “visual” experiences.
Moreover, some of them showed neural activity in the visual cortical areas in fMRI when engaged in a variety of
tasks relying on this type of device.
Our strategy is to come up with a brief list of psychophysical and neuroscientific criteria for “vision-like”
processing and to search for empirical evidence,
Another approach we take is to fully utilize intrinsic cross-modal mappings (correspondences) to make the
training and perception via the device automatic
and effortless. The results suggest that qualia, if still want to use such a word, should be understood with
regard to adaptive behavior and automatic processing.
Moreover, what such training/experience accomplishes should be characterized best as the third kind of qualia.
Enrichment of sensory experiences due to intrinsic
and associative mapping provides scientists, engineers and artists with ample opportunities.
- cortical mapping of space via the device,
- accomplishment of perceptual constancy, and
- intrinsic (synesthesia-like) crossmodal mapping.
For directions and information, please contact Ms. Palma Hutter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-817-4480. Parking
is available at the Rose Hill.