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cross-modal transfer


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The use of information gained through one sensory modality to interpret information gained from another, as when a person born blind acquires the power of vision late in life, usually through a surgical operation, and immediately recognizes familiar objects by sight alone. In 1690 the English empiricist philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) expressed the opinion in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Book 2, Chapter 9, section 8) that such a person would not at first recognize any objects by sight alone, but in 1963 the case of SB reported by the English psychologists Richard L(angton) Gregory (1923–2010) and his research assistant Jean G. Wallace clearly refuted Locke's view and showed that cross-modal transfer had occurred, SB being able, immediately after his eye operation in middle age, to read upper-case letters and numerals that he had learnt only through touch. Also called cross-modality transfer. See also Molyneux's question.

Subjects: Psychology.


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