Electrical stimulation of visual cortex can immediately improve spatial vision
Reinhart, Robert M.G.
McClenahan, Laura J.
Woodman, Geoffrey F.
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Citation (published version)Robert MG Reinhart, Wenxi Xiao, Laura J McClenahan, Geoffrey F Woodman. 2016. "Electrical Stimulation of Visual Cortex Can Immediately Improve Spatial Vision." Current Biology, Volume 26, Issue 14, pp. 1867 - 1872 (6). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.05.019
SUMMARY We can improve human vision by correcting the optics of our lenses [1, 2, 3]. However, after the eye transduces the light, visual cortex has its own limitations that are challenging to correct . Overcoming these limitations has typically involved innovative training regimes that improve vision across many days [5, 6]. In the present study, we wanted to determine whether it is possible to immediately improve the precision of spatial vision with noninvasive direct-current stimulation. Previous work suggested that visual processing could be modulated with such stimulation [7, 8, 9]. However, the short duration and variability of such effects made it seem unlikely that spatial vision could be improved for more than several minutes [7, 10]. Here we show that visual acuity in the parafoveal belt can be immediately improved by delivering noninvasive direct current to visual cortex. Twenty minutes of anodal stimulation improved subjects’ vernier acuity by approximately 15% and increased the amplitude of the earliest visually evoked potentials in lockstep with the behavioral effects. When we reversed the orientation of the electric field, we impaired resolution and reduced the amplitude of visually evoked potentials. Next, we found that anodal stimulation improved acuity enough to be measurable with the relatively coarse Snellen test and that subjects with the poorest acuity benefited the most from stimulation. Finally, we found that stimulation-induced acuity improvements were accompanied by changes in contrast sensitivity at high spatial frequencies.
Published in final edited form as:Curr Biol. 2016 July 25; 26(14): 1867–1872. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.05.019.
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