In 10 seconds? Researchers have managed to restore some sort of sight in a blind woman helping her see simple shapes. This is a promising step but the devices need refining before they can become clinically relevant.

How did they do it?  The team has surgically implanted a microelectrode array into the patient’s brain. The volunteer, a 57-year-old woman has been blind for 16 years. The implant was placed in the visual cortex of the brain, which is the part that processes visual information. In most blind people the visual cortex is functional, with the ability to process information. In this case, the information was provided by a microelectrode array and it had the form of glimpses of light. These glimpses are called phosphenes and they also occur spontaneously in blind people, who contrary to what most of us believe, don’t always live in complete darkness.

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