We are all familiar with the discomfort of a hair in the mouth. This extreme sensitivity of the surface of the tongue is in addition to its usual function to do with taste.
At the Université de Montréal School of Optometry, research into this sensitivity is being used to assist the blind to see.
Daniel Chebat has been researching neuropsychology at the Université de Montréal School of Optometry. He works with special technology that uses the digital output from a camera to provide electrical impulses to a small area on the surface of the tongue.
We see with our brain
Normally, information from the eye passes to the middle of the brain. The information is then passed through the brain to the visual cortex where it is interpreted as sight.
Apparently, impulses sensed by the tongue and registered by the part of the brain that interprets touch can be reinterpreted by the visual cortex. With training, a person can learn to use their visual cortex to interpret these impulses as sight. The equipment used in Chebat’s research permits people who are blind to see.
An amazing organ
It seems the tongue is an amazing organ. It offers a rare portal for information to the brain. Future improvements to existing technology may offer a unique way for the blind to see with their tongue.
Daniel Sieberg reports on the revolutionary technology - BrainPort:
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