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New Electrical Device Allows Blind People to Read Letters

It works by sending short electrical bursts in the shape of the letters.

What if we could restore some sense of vision to blind people? There's a new device that sends electrical pulses to the part of the brain involved in visual processing, and this process actually allows blind people to 'see' letters, reported Nature Magazine.

There is one trick though. It only works on people who were sighted before becoming blind.

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These people tend to have damage to their eyes or optic nerves. However, their visual cortex remains intact.

In these cases, using a device to electrically stimulate different parts of the visual cortex could result in a recognizable image for the brain. The problem is this image is often shapeless.

Daniel Yoshor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and his team came up with a new method for sending these pulses that sends clearer images. It is similar to tracing an object’s outline on the palm of a hand.

The novel technique sends short bursts of electricity mimicking the shape of letters and it has proven to be very successful. When tested on actual individuals who had lost their sight, two of them identified more than 80% of the letters 'sent.'

The researchers believe the same method could be used to 'show' objects as well, restoring a sense of sight to those who need it most. 

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