A bionic prosthetic eye that speaks the language of your brain
This is both fascinating and interesting …
A scientist talks about their work on prosthetic sight, working on a technique which could potentially benefit not only other prosthetic technologies, but also understanding of the brain.
Sheila Nirenberg seems to have successfully managed to create a visual encoder placed on the optic nerve which can transcode visual stimuli into a signal into the brain. From Extreme Tech:
Now, reading the brain’s output (as in a prosthetic arm) is one thing, but feeding data into the brain is something else entirely — and understanding the signals that travel from the retina, through the optic nerve, to the brain is really about as bleeding edge as it gets. Nirenberg still used a brute force technique, though: By taking a complete animal eye and attaching electrodes to the optic nerve, she measured the electric pulses — the coded signal — that a viewed image makes. You might not know what the code means, but if a retina always generates the same electric code when looking at a lion, and a different code when looking at a bookcase, you can then work backwards to derive the retina’s actual encoding technique.
Perhaps even cooler, though, Nirenberg insists that this same technique — wiring up electrodes to our sense organs and brute forcing the encoding technique — could also be used to produce prosthetic ears, or noses, or limbs that can actually feel. Presumably, at some point, with enough data points under our belt, we might begin to unravel the human brain’s overarching communication codecs, too.