Sadler Seminar Series on 'Touch: sensing, feeling, knowing'

Dr Mark Paterson from the University of Pittsburgh will be discussing 'Blindness, touch and seeing through other means'.


What is it like to see with your tongue? If a device converted information from the visual world into tactile stimuli on your back, say, or electrical patterns on the surface of your tongue, could this be a form of seeing? So-called sensory substitution devices, especially Tactile-Visual Sensory Substitution (TVSS), have been featured in the news because they offer a technological alternative to permanently damaged eyesight. One of them, the Tongue Display Unit (TDU) pioneered by the neuroscientist Paul Bach-Y-Rita, has been tested on blind subjects, including at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

While the technology has been improving over several decades, questions of seeing through other means have been around for far longer. More recently, evidence about neural plasticity from experiments with Braille on blind subjects by Pascual-Leone's lab are challenging such assumptions about translatability between senses, and philosophers like Alva No ask whether we can truly see through sensory substitution devices?

Further information

This seminar will be held in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) Seminar Room 1.

For further information on the 'Touch: sensing, feeling, knowing' Sadler Seminar Series visit the website.