Visual cortical prosthesis with a geomagnetic compass restores spatial navigation in blind rats

Curr Biol. 2015 Apr 20;25(8):1091-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.063. Epub 2015 Apr 2.


Allocentric sense is one of the major components that underlie spatial navigation. In blind patients, the difficulty in spatial exploration is attributed, at least partly, to the deficit of absolute direction perception. In support of this notion, we announce that blind adult rats can perform spatial tasks normally when externally provided with real-time feedback of their head directions. Head-mountable microstimulators coupled with a digital geomagnetic compass were bilaterally implanted in the primary visual cortex of adult rats whose eyelids had been sutured. These "blind" rats were trained to seek food pellets in a T-shaped maze or a more complicated maze. Within tens of trials, they learned to manage the geomagnetic information source to solve the mazes. Their performance levels and navigation strategies were similar to those of normal sighted, intact rats. Thus, blind rats can recognize self-location through extrinsically provided stereotactic cues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blindness / psychology
  • Blindness / surgery
  • Blindness / therapy*
  • Cues
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Magnetic Field Therapy / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Field Therapy / methods*
  • Magnets*
  • Maze Learning*
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Rats
  • Space Perception
  • Spatial Navigation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Cortex / surgery*