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Proc Biol Sci. 1999 Dec 7;266(1436):2427-33.

The perception of visual images encoded in musical form: a study in cross-modality information transfer.

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Department of Optometry and Neuroscience, UMIST, UK.


This study demonstrates the ability of blind (previously sighted) and blindfolded (sighted) subjects in reconstructing and identifying a number of visual targets transformed into equivalent musical representations. Visual images are deconstructed through a process which selectively segregates different features of the image into separate packages. These are then encoded in sound and presented as a polyphonic musical melody which resembles a Baroque fugue with many voices, allowing subjects to analyse the component voices selectively in combination, or separately in sequence, in a manner which allows a subject to patch together and bind the different features of the object mentally into a mental percept of a single recognizable entity. The visual targets used in this study included a variety of geometrical figures, simple high-contrast line drawings of man-made objects, natural and urban scenes, etc., translated into sound and presented to the subject in polyphonic musical form.

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