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J Neural Eng. 2007 Mar;4(1):S130-5. Epub 2007 Feb 26.

'Who is the ideal candidate?': decisions and issues relating to visual neuroprosthesis development, patient testing and neuroplasticity.

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Department of Neurology, Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Appropriate delivery of electrical stimulation to intact visual structures can evoke patterned sensations of light in individuals who have been blind for many years. This pivotal finding has lent credibility to the concept of restoring functional vision by artificial means. As numerous groups worldwide pursue human clinical testing with visual prosthetic devices, it is becoming increasingly clear that there remains a considerable gap between the challenges of prosthetic device development and the rehabilitative strategies needed to implement this new technology in patients. An important area of future work will be the development of appropriate pre- and post-implantation measures of performance and establishing candidate selection criteria in order to quantify technical advances, guide future device design and optimize therapeutic success. We propose that the selection of an 'ideal' candidate should also be considered within the context of the variable neuroplastic changes that follow vision loss. Specifically, an understanding of the adaptive and compensatory changes that occur within the brain could assist in guiding the development of post-implantation rehabilitative strategies and optimize behavioral outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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