Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are the two leading causes of blindness in adults. Thankfully, these diseases only cause damage to the eyes and not the brain, and the brain remains intact. Knowing this, scientists over the years tried to propose a device that bypassed the damaged eyes entirely. Instead, a camera would serve as the person’s eyes, and the visual information that the camera sees will directly be delivered to the brain.
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In a paper publishing in the journal Cell on May 14, a team of investigators at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston report that they are one step closer to this goal. They describe an approach in which implanted electrodes are stimulated in a dynamic sequence, essentially “tracing” shapes on the surface of the visual cortex that participants were able to “see.”
“When we used electrical stimulation to dynamically trace letters directly on patients’ brains, they were able to ‘see’ the intended letter shapes and could correctly identify different letters,” senior author Daniel Yoshor says. “They described seeing glowing spots or lines forming the letters, like skywriting.”
More details about this over at EurekAlert.
(Image Credit: Beauchamp et. al./ Cell/ EurekAlert)