Device converting images into music helps individuals without vision reach for objects in space
Left: This is an illustration of the EyeMusic SSD, showing a user with a camera mounted on the glasses, and scalp headphones, hearing musical notes that create a mental image of the visual scene in front of him. He is reaching for the red apple in a pile of green ones. Top right: This is a close-up of the glasses-mounted camera and headphones; Bottom right: This is the hand-held camera pointed at the object of interest. Credit: Maxim Dupliy, Amir Amedi and Shelly Levy-Tzedek
Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) use sound or touch to help the visually impaired perceive the visual scene surrounding them. The ideal SSD would assist not only in sensing the environment but also in performing daily activities based on this input. For example, accurately reaching for a coffee cup, or shaking a friend's hand. In a new study, scientists trained blindfolded sighted participants to perform fast and accurate movements using a new SSD, called EyeMusic. Their results are published in the July issue of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.
The EyeMusic, developed by a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, employs pleasant musical tones and scales to help the visually impaired "see" using music. This non-invasive SSD converts images into a combination of musical notes, or "soundscapes."
The device was developed by the senior author Prof. Amir Amedi and his team at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University. The EyeMusic scans an image and represents pixels at high vertical locations as high-pitched musical notes and low vertical locations as low-pitched notes according to a musical scale that will sound pleasant in many possible combinations. The image is scanned continuously, from left to right, and an auditory cue is used to mark the start of the scan. The horizontal location of a pixel is indicated by the timing of the musical notes relative to the cue (the later it is sounded after the cue, the farther it is to the right), and the brightness is encoded by the loudness of the sound.
The EyeMusic's algorithm uses different musical instruments for each of the five colors: white (vocals), blue (trumpet), red (reggae organ), green (synthesized reed), yellow (violin); Black is represented by silence. Prof. Amedi mentions that "The notes played span five octaves and were carefully chosen by musicians to create a pleasant experience for the users." Sample sound recordings are available at http://brain.huji.ac.il/em/.
"We demonstrated in this study that the EyeMusic, which employs pleasant musical scales to convey visual information, can be used after a short training period (in some cases, less than half an hour) to guide movements, similar to movements guided visually," explain lead investigators Drs. Shelly Levy-Tzedek, an ELSC researcher at the Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Prof. Amir Amedi. "The level of accuracy reached in our study indicates that performing daily tasks with an SSD is feasible, and indicates a potential for rehabilitative use."
The study tested the ability of 18 blindfolded sighted individuals to perform movements guided by the EyeMusic, and compared those movements to those performed with visual guidance. At first, the blindfolded participants underwent a short familiarization session, where they learned to identify the location of a single object (a white square) or of two adjacent objects (a white and a blue square).
In the test sessions, participants used a stylus on a digitizing tablet to point to a white square located either in the north, the south, the east or the west. In one block of trials they were blindfolded (SSD block), and in the other block (VIS block) the arm was placed under an opaque cover, so they could see the screen but did not have direct visual feedback from the hand. The endpoint location of their hand was marked by a blue square. In the SSD block, they received feedback via the EyeMusic. In the VIS block, the feedback was visual.
"Participants were able to use auditory information to create a relatively precise spatial representation," notes Dr. Levy-Tzedek.
The study lends support to the hypothesis that representation of space in the brain may not be dependent on the modality with which the spatial information is received, and that very little training is required to create a representation of space without vision, using sounds to guide fast and accurate movements. "SSDs may have great potential to provide detailed spatial information for the visually impaired, allowing them to interact with their external environment and successfully make movements based on this information, but further research is now required to evaluate the use of our device in the blind " concludes Dr. Levy-Tzedek. These results demonstrate the potential application of the EyeMusic in performing everyday tasks from accurately reaching for the red (but not the green!) apples in the produce aisle, to, perhaps one day, playing a Kinect / Xbox game.
More information: Fast, Accurate Reaching Movements with a Visual-to-Auditory Sensory Substitution Device, by S. Levy-Tzedek, S. Hanassy, S. Abboud, S. Maidenbaum, A. Amedi. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 30: 4 (July 2012). DOI: 10.3233/RNN-2012-110219
Provided by IOS Press
- How blind can 'read' shown in new research May 16, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- See no shape, touch no shape, hear a shape? Oct 18, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Brain doesn't need vision at all in order to 'read' material Feb 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Musical illusion fools audiences and performers, says researcher Jan 05, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Sensitivity of brain center for 'sound space' defined Sep 20, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
13 hours ago I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
Genetic variations within and between populations
May 12, 2013 This paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1893020/) asserts these two different conclusions: ---Quote--- Thus the answer to the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
Neuroscience 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—What if the quality of your work depends more on your focus on the piano keys or canvas or laptop than your musical or painting or computing skills? If target users can be convinced, they ...
Neuroscience 10 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Neurological disorders can have a devastating impact on the lives of sufferers and their families.
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
If you're a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Neuroscience May 16, 2013 | 2 / 5 (2) | 0 |
In the future, if you want to improve your ability to manipulate numbers in your head, you might just plug yourself in. So say researchers who report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 16 on studies of a harm ...
Neuroscience May 16, 2013 | 4.6 / 5 (8) | 0 |
In 2008 researchers from the University of Southern Denmark showed that the drug thioridazine, which has previously been used to treat schizophrenia, is also a powerful weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as ...
7 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
In order to avoid harms associated with alcohol consumption, in 2009 the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism issued guidelines that define low-risk drinking. These guidelines differ for men and women: no more ...
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Working with lab mice models of multiple sclerosis (MS), UC Davis scientists have detected a novel molecular target for the design of drugs that could be safer and more effective than current FDA-approved ...
8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Treatment for alcohol use disorders works best if the patient actively understands and incorporates the interventions provided in the clinic. Multiple factors can influence both the type and degree of neurocognitive abnormalities ...
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Few randomized clinical trials have been done to assess clinical prediction rules for patients with lower back pain, and the trials that have been done are of low quality and do not provide ...
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |