April 30, 2013 lecture “The tongue as visual surrogate: experiences with sensory substitution for blindness”

PRISM Lecture/Neuroscience joint talk:

“The tongue as visual surrogate: experiences with sensory substitution for blindness”


University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tuesday April 30, 2013, Time: 12:35 – 1:45 PM  Location: NAC 7/236 

Abstract: Sensory substitution is a newer concept for restoring a sense of the environment to the completely blind.  How to test performance for states of ultra low vision in the context of artificial vision, particularly those mediated through non-visual pathways is a new area of research.  This lecture will provide an overview of experiences using the BrainPort and some method to conduct objective and quantifiable assessments of behavioral performances.  In addition, preliminary results of neuroimaging studies using diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTI) and functional positron emission tomography (PET) will be shown to suggest that the visual brain becomes less organized as a function of blindness duration.

Biography: Dr. Nau is the Director of optometric and low vision services for the UPMC Eye Center, and the founder of the Sensory Substitution Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated from the New England College of Optometry and completed a residency in ocular disease at the VAMC in Boston. She practiced at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston for five years and has been at the University of Pittsburgh since 2003.  Clinically, she specializes in medical contact lenses for ocular surface and corneal disease, including scleral lenses and contacts for artificial corneas. Her research interests primarily center on artificial vision technologies for the blind, including sensory substitution. Her laboratory has conducted the largest human studies to date of the BrainPort Vision Device, which uses the tongue as a means to convey visual information to the brain.

Neural Engineering