Clinical applications such as artificial vision require extraordinary, diverse, lengthy and intimate collaborations among basic scientists, engineers and clinicians. In this review, we present the state of research on a visual neuroprosthesis designed to interface with the occipital visual cortex as a means through which a limited, but useful, visual sense could be restored in profoundly blind individuals. We review the most important physiological principles regarding this neuroprosthetic approach and emphasize the role of neural plasticity in order to achieve desired behavioral outcomes. While full restoration of fine detailed vision with current technology is unlikely in the immediate near future, the discrimination of shapes and the localization of objects should be possible allowing blind subjects to navigate in a unfamiliar environment and perhaps even to read enlarged text. Continued research and development in neuroprosthesis technology will likely result in a substantial improvement in the quality of life of blind and visually impaired individuals.
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