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Computer-generated visual stimulation to increase visual attention in children with brain injury.

In Progress
OptokineSys in use with a child patient of the Brain Injury Unit at Blythedale Children’s Hospital.

Visual experience is critical for the proper wiring of the visual system and for the acquisition of sight during development. Experience can also be used as therapy to help rewire the visual system and restore sight after brain injury. Studies in the laboratory of Dr. Glen Prusky have used visual experience in rodents to increase brain plasticity and restore visual function in rodents. We have applied the same visual therapy to a child with brain injury and have found remarkable increase in their visual attention. Whereas we are encouraged by this result, we are limited by two factors:

  1. the interface, which consists of black and white lines that move horizontally, is not very engaging, and 
  2. the system is limited in its ability to measure visual attention. 

In this project we intend to address each of these deficiencies in innovative ways. To make the interface more engaging, we will use colorful computer graphics paired with sound to simulate salient cues in the environment. To test visual attention, we will adopt a preferential looking task, which presents two pictures to the subject and looks for response when the subject directs their gaze on one of the objects. The pictures can vary by contrast, size, and color; attention is measured by the limit of these variables at which the pictures stop drawing the subject’s gaze. Thus, we intend to translate a therapy that has restored vision in rodents with developmental brain injury into a child-friendly computer program to deliver visual therapy to children with brain injury, and to precisely measure the response to therapy.


Conditions & Recovery

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See better.
Traumatic Brain Injury icon
In the U.S., over 5.3 million adults and children live with TBI.