Bionic vision based on cat’s brain

Black cat with yellow eyesOne of the hardest things about this eye-on-the-future blogging gig is finding a story like this, where the headline – “Cat brain could provide bionic eye firmware” – says everything you can say about it without going into the technical detail. [image by fazen]

So I guess I’ll just use a pull-quote:

“To try and develop a more sophisticated model [of the way brains respond to visual input], the team recorded the responses of 49 individual neurons in a part of a cat’s brain called the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). The LGN receives and processes visual information from the retina, via the optic nerve, before sending it on to the cerebral cortex.

Using a mixture of simple stimuli, like dots and bars, and building up to more complex moving artificial scenes, the team tried to work out the basics of the LGN’s response to visual features.”

The end-goal here is to provide prosthetic vision for persons whose ocular nerve has degenerated from lack of use, but I’m thinking that model will have a lot of other applications as well.