The transfer of non-visual spatial knowledge between real and virtual mazes via sensory substitution

Daniel Robert Chebat, Shachar Maidenbaum, Amir Amedi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many attempts are being made to ease navigation for people who are blind, both in terms of spatial learning and of navigation. One promising approach is the use of virtual environments for safe and versatile training. While it is known that humans can transfer non-visual spatial knowledge between real and virtual environments, limitations of these studies typically include results obtained mainly in simple environments, using mainly blindfolded-sighted participants and different methods of sensory input for real and virtual environments. In this study, participants with a wide range of visual experience use the EyeCane and Virtual EyeCane to solve complex Hebb-Williams mazes in real and virtual environments. The EyeCane and its virtual counterpart are minimalistic sensory substitution devices that code single-point distance information into sound. We test whether participants improve performance in the real-to-virtual sequence: Solve a real maze and subsequently improve performance in the virtual maze. We also test whether participants can sole a virtual maze and subsequently improve performance in the virtual world: The virtual-to-real sequence. We find that participants can use sensory substitution guided navigation to extract spatial information from the virtual world and apply it to significantly improve their behavioral performance in the real world and vice versa. Our results demonstrate transfer in both direction, strengthening and extending the existing literature in terms of complexity, parameters, input-matching and varying levels of visual experience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR 2017
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781509030538
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR 2017 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 19 Jun 201722 Jun 2017

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR
Volume2017-June
ISSN (Electronic)2331-9569

Conference

Conference2017 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR 2017
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityMontreal
Period19/06/1722/06/17

Keywords

  • Acquired Blindness
  • Congenital Blindness
  • Environmental Rehabilitation
  • Low Vision
  • Maze Learning
  • Perceptual Learning
  • Sensory Substitution
  • Spatial knowledge
  • Virtual Reality
  • Visual Rehabilitation
  • assistive technology
  • blind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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