Joint lecture: Researchers from University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University

March 2, 2011 -
11:45am to 1:00pm

The Fox Center for Vision Restoration organizes an exciting lecture series focusing on ocular regeneration and new therapies.

Distinguished national and international speakers present their innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to finding cures for vision impairment. The objective of this lecture series is to accelerate research through knowledge sharing, partnership building and out of the box thinking.

Amy Nau

"A Taste of Vision for Those without Sight"

Amy C. Nau, OD
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Amy Nau is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Director of Contact Lens and Low Vision Service and Director, UPMC Eye Center Optical Shops University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Regulating Plasticity in the Visual Cortex"

Justin Crowley Justin Crowley, PhD
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Justin Crowley is Director, Health Professions Program and Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University.

"A Taste of Vision for Those without Sight": Abstract

The restoration of vision to those who are completely blind is being aggressively pursued on a worldwide scale. Retinal implant chips and cortical implant electrodes are the most common strategies for trying to re-establish sight.
Sensory substitution refers to the use of an intact sense as a conduit for relaying information to the brain via an alternative sensory channel. This is a relatively novel strategy which may provide a means for restoring a sense of one’s environment (vision) to the blind.
The Brainport is a novel sensory substitution device which uses the tongue and a camera as a paired substitute for the eye. By converting a live video stream into an electrotactile display worn in the mouth, users are able to successfully interpret the sensation, much as the fingertips can be used to interpret symbols when reading Braille.
Current assistive devices for the blind have their primary functionality in text identification, however there is a critical need to provide the blind community with methoAmy Nau and Justin Crowley ds to enhance wayfinding and object identification.
We have demonstrated that the Brainport is able to allow completely blind individuals to perceive features of their immediate environment, including object identification as well as basic wayfinding skills. We have also shown that modified psychophysical tests are reliably able to measure how well the device is working. Our results, as well as implications for neuroplasticity will be discussed in this lecture.

Location and Address

Eye and Ear Boardroom, 5th floor, Eye and Ear Institute

203 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213