Saturday, January 5, 2008
OMG I feel like this cold is going to kill me. Ugh.
Anyhow, bitching aside, Reddit caught what I am assuming is actually an older article on Wired on the idea of adding new senses by harnessing plasticity. Let's set aside the idea that all our more primitive portions of neural gooeyness are not designed to just lump new senses on top of old ones, what would be considered a "new sense"?
Some eels can detect distortions in a self generated electromagnetic field around their bodies, but that's all I can really think of off hand. Generally, there is a very basic fallacy that all these articles miss: transducing one phenomena into another sense violates the idea of bringing into existence a new sense. In other words, like in this article, adding vibrotactile pads to indicate the distance above the ground (by vibration frequency) is not really "sensing" gravity. You're sensing vibrational frequency. If you lose the ability to detect haptic feedback, you lose your "gravity" sense. The same is not true of our other senses. But, to play Devil's advocate, at a base level everything is transformed into nerve impulses. And yet, to play the Devil's Devil's advocate (I swear that's the title of a heavy metal song), each of our senses as its own wiring that is oodles more complicated than "sensation A is detected by cell type A, and then that just goes to 'the brain'".
Anyhow, a similar self-mutilation type version was discussed earlier on DNI, and the article links to the writer's blog, which is decent, though not updated very often. Worthy of an RSS sub at least.