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Shape conveyed by visual-to-auditory sensory substitution activates the lateral occipital complex


The lateral-occipital tactile-visual area (LOtv) is activated when objects are recognized by vision or touch. We report here that the LOtv is also activated in sighted and blind humans who recognize objects by extracting shape information from visual-to-auditory sensory substitution soundscapes. Recognizing objects by their typical sounds or learning to associate specific soundscapes with specific objects do not activate this region. This suggests that LOtv is driven by the presence of shape information.

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Figure 1: A conjunction analysis for shape across modalities and experimental conditions: vOICeObj > vOICeScr, AudObj, AudScr and SenMot in conjunction with TacObj > vOICeScr, AudObj, AudScr and SenMot.
Figure 2: Interaction analysis, convergence analysis and percent signal change analysis of LOtv.


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We thank M. Thivierge for invaluable administrative help and S. Gautam for statistics support. The work on this article was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (K24-RR018875, R21-EY0116168 and RO1-EY12091 to A.P.-L.) and The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (to A.A).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



All authors were involved in the design and implementation of the study and the writing of the manuscript. A.P.-L. and A.A. devised the concept, A.A. carried out the analysis, W.M.S. designed and implemented the vOICe training program and P.M. provided expert technical support regarding The vOICe.

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Correspondence to Amir Amedi or Alvaro Pascual-Leone.

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Competing interests

Peter Meijer is the inventor and holds a patent for 'The vOICe'.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Schematic summary of the algorithm employed for the visuoauditory conversion and the components of the system (adapted from Meijer 1992). (PDF 210 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Behavioral data from the scanner. (PDF 31 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 3

A conjunction analysis for shape across modalities and experimental conditions (similar to what was presented in Fig. 1c, adding the right hemisphere). (PDF 59 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 4

The magnitude of activation in LOtv across subjects for the right hemisphere. (PDF 65 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 23 kb)

Supplementary Appendix (PDF 8 kb)

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Amedi, A., Stern, W., Camprodon, J. et al. Shape conveyed by visual-to-auditory sensory substitution activates the lateral occipital complex. Nat Neurosci 10, 687–689 (2007).

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