Institut Jean Nicod

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I am a PhD student (2011-2014) at the Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS/ENS/EHESS) and at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC). 
I am working on the individuation of the senses, under the supervision of Roberto Casati.

Subject: The Unity of Vision.

Recent empirical studies seem to disrupt the traditional understanding of the sensory modalities according to which sensory modalities are natural kinds, that is that vision, audition, touch, taste, smell are unitary and separate processes.
For example, some studies show that patients suffering from visual agnosia are able to correctly manipulate objects, without being able to identify or recognize them. Then, there might be one process for the manipulation of an object (vision-for-action) and one different process for the recognition of the same object (vision-for-perception) (Milner & Goodale 1992). That suggests that vision is not a unitary process. 
Furthermore, there are now devices that enable blind people to entertain (what seems to be) a visual experience (that is a distal experience) thanks to a tactile stimulation (that is a proximal experience) (see Bach-Y-Rita 1972, Auvray & Myin 2009). That suggests that vision is not a separate process.

Then, these studies bring into question the traditional understanding of the senses as natural kinds. Consequently, it seems important to re-assess the classical criteria for individuating the senses (stimulus, sensory organ, object-specific, belief, qualia) which presuppose that traditional understanding. Our main purpose is to determine a more sophisticated criterium.

- Analysing relevant phenomena such as double dissociations, sensory substitution, blindsight, sensory interaction, synesthesia.

- Assessing the costs and benefits of the different explanations of those phenomena: purely informational, phenomenological, physiological, architectural-computational, and evolutionary theories of the senses.

- Discussing the classical criteria of individuation, that is their computational plausibility, predictive power and explanatory value.

The working hypothesis of the project is that the current notions of the senses are intrinsically unstable, as they are under the pressure of very different theoretical demands. According to different needs, the perimeter of a sensory modality can be redrawn. The next step is to understand the impact of this instability and variability on empirical research. Are we facing a major conceptual revolution, or just a simple readjustment? What are the costs and benefits of working with variable notions?

Financial Support:

Three-years grant from the Ecole Doctorale, Cerveau, Cognition et Comportement (ED3C/UPMC).

Short CV:

M.Sc in Cognitive Sciences (S1-S4: COGMASTER: EHESS/ENS/Paris-V).

Thesis: Minimalism, Contextualism and Relativism: Disagreement and Taste Claims: theoretical and experimental approaches. (in French).

Supervisor: Isidora STOJANOVIC (CNRS/IJN)

M.A in Philosophy (S1-S2 : University of Aberdeen (ERASMUS program), S3-S4: Université Rennes 1).

Thesis: Essay on the notion of semantic content and on the comprehension-conditions of referential statements. (in French).

Supervisor: Filipe DRAPEAU-CONTIM (Université Rennes 1)

Internships (2009-2010):

1. Institut Jean Nicod, École Normale Supérieure.

Subject: Semantic Contextualism and Relativism. (in French)

Supervisor: François RECANATI (CNRS/IJN)

2. Institut Jean Nicod, École Normale Supérieure.

Subject: Dual-Processes and Metacognition: the Feeling of Rightness. (in French)

Supervisor: Elizabeth PACHERIE (CNRS/IJN)

3. Laboratoire de Neuropsychologie Interventionnelle. Hôpital Henri Mondor, Faculté de Médecine de Créteil.

Subject: The Role of the Striatum in Lexical Learning in Huntington’s Disease. (in French).

Supervisors: Dr. Anne-Catherine BACHOUD-LEVI (PH) & Ruth DE DIEGO BALAGUER. (Post-doct/ICREA/ENS)