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Sitting blindfolded with a device equipped with 144 pixels in his mouth, any journalist would wonder about his career choice. But after a few minutes of experimentation, you have to recognize that the system developed by neuropsychologist Maurice Ptito of Université de Montréal, together with colleagues in Denmark and the United States , to allow blind people to "see with their tongue" appears strangely effective. In just the first few minutes, the subject is able to build up a fairly clear picture of the letter "T" placed in various positions and transmitted by electrical impulses to the device on his tongue.
In the shorter term, we can imagine a system that would replace the Braille alphabet. In fact, if the tongue were capable of "reading" the letters of the alphabet, it would be able to read texts broadcast via electrical signals. When it has been perfected, this system could considerably improve the quality of life of blind persons. It would be a "hands-off" non-invasive system.
It is no surprise that the tongue is the focus of Maurice Ptito's work. Processing of information from this organ occupies a large part of the brain, and the presence of saliva creates excellent conditions for the transmission of electrical stimuli. "Our research shows that our senses are recyclable, in a way," explains neuropsychologist Maurice Ptito of the School of Optometry , who collaborated with a researcher from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, Ron Kupers.
Started in Scandinavia , this research is now being pursued in Canada by a Master's student, Solvej Moesgaard. Professor Ptito was able to obtain the equipment he needed to advance the project thanks to various sources of funding. Research on the congenitally blind has already begun, and the School of Optometry is taking advantage of the proximity of the Nazareth and Louis Braille Institute in the same building to recruit research subjects.
Source: University Of Montreal. June 2004.
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