ananyo writes "Neuroscientists have created a prosthesis that can partially restore sight to blind mice. More than 20 million people worldwide become blind owing to the degeneration of their retina, the thin tissue at the back of the eye that turns light into a neural signal. Only one prosthesis has been approved for treatment of the condition — it consists of an array of surgically implanted electrodes that directly stimulate the optic nerve and allow patients to discern edges and letters. Patients cannot, however, recognize faces or perform many everyday tasks.
The retina contains several layers of nerves that seem to encode light into neural signals. But no-one had been able to crack the code that enables the brain to 'see'. With the new device, rather than feeding visual signals directly into the eye, they processed them using a code that the researchers had developed by watching how a healthy retina responds to stimuli. After receiving the encoded input, the mice were able to track moving stripes, something that they hadn't been able to do before (abstract)."
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