Experimental brain implants in monkeys offer hope for restoring vision in blind people

Scientists have said they are one step closer to restoring the sight of blind people using brain implants.

(CNN)Scientists are a step closer to restoring the sight of blind people using brain implants, researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience said, after a series of successful experiments on monkeys.

Researchers developed implants containing 1,024 electrodes -- conductors that carry electrical currents into and out of the brain -- and implanted them in the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information, in two macaque monkeys.
By sending electrical signals to the monkeys' brains, researchers created "phosphenes" -- dots of light that could be "seen" or perceived by the brain, and can be used to create the illusion of shapes and objects.
    Lead researcher Pieter Roelfsema told CNN that the team wanted to show that it was possible to induce "vision of objects" through direct electrical stimulation of the brain, explaining that the visual cortex has "a sort of visual map of space."
    "You can work with it like a matrix board along the highway. If you stimulate or light up multiple boards, you can see patterns," he told CNN.
    The monkeys performed a series of tasks, and, using their artificial vision, they were able to recognize shapes and "percepts" including lines, moving dots and letters, researchers reported Friday in findings published in the journal Science.

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