Monday, October 25, 2010

See What I'm Saying - Cross Modal Sensory Perception and Sensory Training

There's an interesting new book from UC Riverside psychologist Lawrence Rosenblum called See What I'm Saying.

In it, Rosenblum chronicles various individuals who have been able to fine tune their sensory systems to an exquisite degree.

Examples include individuals like John Bramblitt, a blind painter who can feel differences color mixtures and uses his strong kinesthetic sense to paint.




There's also individuals like Daniel Kish who have refined their sense of hearing to such a high degree that they can walk as if they see.  By using a system of auditory clicks, they can listen for how the sounds bounce of objects near to them so that they can identify size, shape, and characteristics of items in their surroundings. Kish can lead other blind mountain bikers on expeditions using this strategy of clicks to perceive the path and the positions of his fellow bicyclists.Check out this remarkable video:



Sensory training has a tremendous neurorehabilitative potential for individuals with significant sensory deprivations like blindness or deafness, but it also holds tremendous potential for mixed sensory conditions that may involve multiple sensory systems like birth injury, autism, or sensory processing disorders in general.

Can't tell you how remarkable it is for me to see stories like this - as a neurologist, it was such an entrenched idea that rehabilitation or therapy were only possible for motor and not sensory problems. With new computer-based technologies too, it is so much easier to envision specific targeting of sensory weaknesses and ways to train and systematize the knowledge that comes in from various sensory channels.

Mixed sensory conditions will present more of a challenge, but probably just require more isolation and training of sensory-sensory or sensory-motor pairings.

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