Seeing beyond the visual cortex
It's a chilling thought--losing the sense of sight due tp severe injury or damage to the brain's visual cortex. But, is it possible to train a damaged or injured brain to "see" again? Yes, according to Tony Ro, a neuroscientist at the City College of New York, who is artificially recreating a condition called "blindsight" in his lab. "Blindsight is a condition that some patients experience after having damage to the primary visual cortex in the back of their brains. What happens in these patients is they go cortically blind, yet they can still discriminate visual information, albeit without any awareness," Ro explains. Ro says blindsight holds tantalizing clues to the architecture of the brain. With support from NSF, he is developing a clearer picture of how other parts of the brain, besides the visual cortex, respond to visual stimuli. He says understanding and mapping those alternative pathways might be the key to new rehabilitative therapies.
Credit: National Science Foundation
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