His research focuses on blindness, which is both a limiting condition affecting many millions worldwide, and constitutes a unique model for answering fundamental questions in cognitive neuroscience. His lab's work ranges from basic science, querying brain plasticity and sensory integration, to technological developments, allowing the blind to be more independent and even “see” using sounds and touch similar to bats and dolphins (a.k.a. Sensory Substitution Devices, SSDs), and back to applying these devices in research.
The central hypothesis of the work is that visual areas can process sound and touch to a similar extent as they process vision, but only when subjects learn to fully extract the relevant information encoded by these alternative senses. He proposes that, with proper training, many (if not all) visual brain areas or network can change the type of sensory input it uses to retrieve behaviorally (task)-relevant information within a matter of weeks/months. He also suggest that visual-like selectivity might develop without any visual experience. If this is true, it can have far reaching implications also for clinical rehabilitation, which is the second major aim of his lab.
Photo: Eyal Toueg