Promise of sight for the visually impaired

Photo by Art M

Researchers at the University of Texas are exploring seeing by stimulating the brains visual cortex to create images and shapes!

This research it is hoped will lead to a prosthesis that will assist the visually impaired to see by stimulating the brain and making one aware of “seeing”.

Professor Michael Beauchamp is experimenting with the portion of the brain that generates phosphenes which create the illusion of a flash of light.  It this can be controlled it would allow the seeing of shapes and letters.

According to author  in the article entitled “Neuroscientists could help people see with their “mind’s eye” in the June 6, 2012  of Gizmag, “Such a device could work by integrating a webcam in the frame of the subject’s eyeglasses: the tiny camera would wirelessly relay information to a computer chip implanted in a person’s brain. The chip would then stimulate the appropriate parts of the visual cortex to allow the brain to experience images”.  Doctor Borghino thinks this might be about 5 years away.

If he is correct, this could open up a whole world to the visually impaired.

In the TED talk below, Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks talks about Charles Bonnett syndrome. This is an illustration of the part of the brain that already generates “seeing” in the visually impaired in the form of “lucid hallucinations”.  Listen to his vivid description on TED.  Always worth a listen!

We see not only with our eyes but with our brains.   Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks on TED.