Cross-Modal Transfer

Can a person born blind, upon gaining sight, differentiate between a sphere and a cube using vision alone? In other words, can knowledge previously learned by touch be used to inform vision? This question, first posed by William Molyneux in the late 17th century, concerns cross-modal (across senses) transfer, when information gathered in one sensory modality (e.g., touch) transfers to knowledge in another sensory modality (e.g., vision). Cross-modal (CM) transfer results from stimulus characteristics that are related across the senses. For example, an object with a rough texture has a property (roughness) that is readily picked up by touch, but that can be detected by vision as well, as a visually uneven surface. For this reason, CM transfer is sometimes referred to as intermodal (between ...

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