The Brockman Foundation has provided funding for research that aims to restore vision to people with acquired blindness. Acquired blindness is a devastating condition that affects more than one million people in the United States, yet there are currently no treatment options for most blind patients.
Acquired blindness is typically caused by damage to or dysfunction of the eye, retina, or optic nerve. The part of the brain that processes visual information – the visual cortex – is undamaged, however. The overall goal of this project is to use technology to input visual information directly to the visual brain.
To accomplish this goal, Dr. Daniel Yoshor and his team of neurosurgeons and research scientists at the University of Pennsylvania will use animal and human subjects to restore limited visual function by translating visual images from video cameras worn by research subjects into patterns of electrical stimulation delivered to the visual cortex by a novel array of thousands of electrodes stimulating the visual cortex. The team will also develop novel software algorithms, termed dynamic current steering, that trace shapes on the surface of the brain by turning electrodes on and off in sequence. Since the visual brain is adapted to detect change and movement, this technique will be much better at evoking useful images, such as the shape of a letter or a number, than current methods.
Daniel Yoshor, MD, a nationally recognized neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Vice President of Clinical Integration and Innovation for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
As a clinical neurosurgeon, Dr. Yoshor focuses on endoscopic pituitary and skull base surgery, as well as brain tumor and epilepsy surgery. He has one of the largest pituitary surgery practices in the nation, and also has extensive experience in clinical brain mapping and in the development and clinical implementation of novel neuro-technologies.
A highly respected scientist, Dr. Yoshor has received continuous extramural federal peer-reviewed funding since 2004. As a visual neuroscientist, he studies mechanisms of sensory processing in human visual cortex. Work from Dr. Yoshor’s laboratory has been published in leading scientific journals, including the Journal of Neuroscience, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, PNAS, Current Biology, and Nature Medicine.
- Overview: Restoring vision to people with acquired blindness by using technology to input visual information directly to the brain