Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hear to see: New method for the treatment of visual field defects

Date:
May 30, 2012
Source:
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum
Summary:
Patients who are blind in one side of their visual field benefit from presentation of sounds on the affected side. After passively hearing sounds for an hour, their visual detection of light stimuli in the blind half of their visual field improved significantly. Neural pathways that simultaneously process information from different senses are responsible for this effect.

Patients who are blind in one side of their visual field benefit from presentation of sounds on the affected side. After passively hearing sounds for an hour, their visual detection of light stimuli in the blind half of their visual field improved significantly. Neural pathways that simultaneously process information from different senses are responsible for this effect. “We have embarked on a whole new therapy approach” says PD Dr. Jφrg Lewald from the RUB’s Cognitive Psychology Unit.

Related Articles


Together with colleagues from the Neurological University Clinic at Bergmannsheil (Prof. Dr. Martin Tegenthoff) and Durham University (PD Dr. Markus Hausmann), he describes the results in PLoS ONE.

Passive listening rather than extensive visual training

To investigate the effectiveness of the auditory stimulation, the research team carried out a visual test before and after the acoustic stimulation. Patients were asked to determine the position of light flashes in the healthy and in the blind field of vision. While performance was stable in the intact half of their field of vision, the number of correct answers in the blind half increased after the auditory stimulation. This effect lasted for 1.5 hours. “In other treatments, the patients undergo arduous and time-consuming visual training” explains Lewald. “The therapeutic results are moderate and vary greatly from patient to patient. Our result suggests that passive hearing alone can improve vision temporarily.”

The origin of visual field defects

If strokes or injuries cause damage to the area of the brain that processes the information of the visual sense, this results in a visual field defect. The area most commonly affected is the primary visual cortex, the first processing point for visual input to the cerebral cortex. The more neurons die in this brain area, the bigger the visual deficit. Usually the entire half of the visual field is affected, a condition known as hemianopia. “Hemianopia restricts patients immensely in their everyday life” says Lewald. “When objects or people are missed on the blind side, this can quickly lead to accidents.”

How the brain integrates sensory information

“There is increasing evidence that processing of incoming sensory information is not strictly separated in the brain”, says Lewald. “At various stages there are connections between the sensory systems.” In particular the nerve cells in the so-termed superior colliculus, part of the midbrain, process auditory and visual information simultaneously. This area is not usually affected by visual field defects, and thus continues to analyse visual stimuli. Therefore, remaining visual functions are retained in the blind half, which the patients, however, are not aware of. “Since the same nerve cells also receive auditory information, we had the idea to use acoustic stimuli to increase their sensitivity to light stimuli” says Lewald.

New research issues

The team of researchers now aims to further refine their therapy approach in order to reveal sustained improvement in visual functioning. They will also investigate whether the stimulation of the sense of hearing also has an effect on more complex visual functions. Finally, they aim to explore the mechanisms that underlie the effect observed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jφrg Lewald, Martin Tegenthoff, Sφren Peters, Markus Hausmann. Passive Auditory Stimulation Improves Vision in Hemianopia. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e31603 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031603

Cite This Page:

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Hear to see: New method for the treatment of visual field defects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100242.htm>.
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. (2012, May 30). Hear to see: New method for the treatment of visual field defects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100242.htm
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Hear to see: New method for the treatment of visual field defects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100242.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins