Restoring vision for visually impaired people might soon be a reality with the help of brain implants, due to recent discoveries at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), which were published in the journal Science. The study has revealed that newly developed high-resolution implants in the visual cortex of people who are blind will make it possible for them to understand artificially induced percepts and shapes.
The concept of stimulating the brain via an implant to generate artificial visual percepts is not new at all and dates back to the 1970s. However, the existing systems can only generate a small number of these artificial “pixels” at any given time. Researchers from a team led by Pieter Roelfsema at NIN are now using new implant production and implantation technologies, advanced materials engineering, microchip manufacturing, and microelectronics, to develop more stable devices and durable than previous implants. The initial results are very promising.