Recent advances in the instrumentation technology of sensory substitution have presented new opportunities to develop systems for compensation of sensory loss. In sensory substitution (e.g. of sight or vestibular function), information from an artificial receptor is coupled to the brain via a human-machine interface. The brain is able to use this information in place of that usually transmitted from an intact sense organ. Both auditory and tactile systems show promise for practical sensory substitution interface sites. This research provides experimental tools for examining brain plasticity and has implications for perceptual and cognition studies more generally.