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National Public Radio (NPR)

Prof. Mark Bear speaks with NPR’s Jon Hamilton about how injecting tetrodotoxin, a paralyzing nerve toxin found in puffer fish, could allow the brain to rewire in a way that restores vision and help adults with amblyopia or "lazy eye." Bear explains that: “Unexpectedly, in many cases vision recovered in the amblyopic eye, showing that that plasticity could be restored even in the adult.”

New Scientist

In an interview with Clare Wilson of New Scientist, Prof. Ed Boyden, one of the co-inventors of the field of optogenetics, discusses how the technique was used to help partially restore vision for a blind patient. “It’s exciting to see the first publication on human optogenetics,” says Boyden.

New York Times

Prof. Ed Boyden speaks with New York Times reporter Carl Zimmer about how scientists were able to partially restore a patient’s vision using optogenetics. “So far, I’ve thought of optogenetics as a tool for scientists primarily, since it’s being used by thousands of people to study the brain,” says Boyden, who helped pioneer the field of optogenetics. “But if optogenetics proves itself in the clinic, that would be extremely exciting.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Theresa Machemer writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that C. elegans are able to sense and avoid the color blue.

National Geographic

Prof. James Fujimoto and research affiliate Eric Swanson have been named recipients of the Sanford and Sue Greenberg Prize to End Blindness, reports Sandrine Ceurstemont for National Geographic. “The winners were chosen based on the strength of their contributions to eliminate blindness, the ambitious aim set out by the prize organizers in 2012,” Ceurstemont explains.

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Alison Gopnik writes about Prof. Pawan Sinha’s research examining how humans acquire specific visual abilities. Sinha’s latest research into how people learn to differentiate between faces and other objects showed that children who had their vision restored were able to learn “the skill and eventually they did as well as sighted children.”

The Atlantic

MIT researchers have found similarities in how the brains of babies and adults respond to visual information, reports Courtney Humphries for The Atlantic. “Every region that we knew about in adults [with] a preference for faces or scenes has that same preference in babies 4 to 6 months old,” explains Prof. Rebecca Saxe. 

Forbes

A team of MIT students has developed a device that can convert text to braille in real-time, reports Devin Thorpe for Forbes. Undergrad Jialin Shi explains that the team hopes the device “will be able to increase the braille literacy rate, and in turn, increase the employment rate of adults with significant vision loss.”

Science

In an article for Science, Rhitu Chatterjee writes about Project Prakash, an effort started by Prof. Pawan Sinha to help children with preventable or treatable blindness see. Chatterjee writes that the project has brought hundreds of young people, “into the light—while putting the field of visual neuroscience in a new light as well.”

NPR

Carey Goldberg reports for NPR on Project Prakash, Prof. Pawan Sinha's non-profit that provides cataract operations for children in India. Sinha explains that by examining how a child reacts to gaining vision, “you have a ringside seat into the process of visual development.”

The New Yorker

Writing for The New Yorker, Patrick House examines Professor Pawan Sinha’s work with sight restoration. “A remarkable thing about the brain’s processing capabilities is that, even with less than perfect image quality, it can extract a great deal of meaning about the visual world,” says Sinha of the benefits of sight restoration surgery. 

The Washington Post

Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post writes about a new study conducted by researchers from MIT and Johns Hopkins University that showed that sightless people, “understand how others see the world in the same way that sighted people do — though they have never personally experienced a single visual image.”

Associated Press

Associated Press reporter Rodrique Ngowi writes about how researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a prototype of an audio reading device for the blind. The device, which is in the early stages of development, is produced by a 3-D printer and is equipped with a small camera that scans text. 

NPR

NPR’s Joe Palca reports on EyeWire, a computer game developed by MIT researchers to help map nerve connections in the eye. Palca reports that over “120,000 citizen neuroscientists from 140 countries” played the game, helping to produce a map that shows that the eye’s retina detects motion.

The Guardian

Guardian reporter Meeri Kim highlights new MIT research that shows that in order to manage the world’s visual chaos, the human brain performs automatic visual smoothing over time and our visual perception is influenced by what we saw up to 15 seconds ago.