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Surgery cannot completely undo the brain rewiring caused by long term blindness so how does the brain adapt?

Recent scientific advances have meant that eyesight can be partially restored to those who previously would have been blind for life. However, scientists at the University of Montreal and the University of Trento have discovered that the rewiring of the senses that occurs in the brains of the long-term blind means that visual restoration may never be complete. “We had the opportunity to study the rare case of a woman with very low vision since birth and whose vision was suddenly restored in adulthood following the implantation of a Boston Keratoprosthesis in her right eye,” explained Giulia Dormal, who led the study. “On one hand, our findings reveal that the visual cortex maintains a certain degree of plasticity – that is the capacity to change as a function of experience – in an adult person with low vision since early life. On the other, we discovered that several months after the surgery, the visual cortex had not regained full normal functioning.” The visual cortex is the part of the brain that processes information from our eyes.

How Does the Brain Adapt to the Restoration of Eyesight?
Recent scientific advances have meant that eyesight can be partially restored to those who previously would have been blind for life. However, scientists at the University of Montreal and the University of Trento have discovered that the rewiring of the senses that occurs in the brains of the long-term blind means that visual restoration may never be complete.
Credit: IrishEyes
License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Source: flickr.com


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About this study:

Giulia Dormal, Olivier Collignon and their colleagues published “Tracking the evolution of crossmodal plasticity and visual functions before and after sight-restoration“, DOI: 10.1152/jn.00420.2014, in the Journal of Neurophysiology on December 17, 2014. The research received funding from the Canada Research Chair Program, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Saint-Justine Foundation, the European Research Council (starting grant MADVIS, ERC-StG 337573, the Veronneau Troutman Foundation, the Fonds de recherche en ophtalmologie de l’Université de Montréal, PAI/UIAP grant PAI/33, and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.

University of Montreal