Neuroplasticity and blindness
I recently read an article in the Guardian (I think) about neuroplasticity- where the brain can adapt to new environments by re-programming different parts to deal with different functions. So if part of the brain is damaged (say by a stroke) then it is possible to "train" an undamaged part to take up the load. I believe this is a correct understanding, although if I'm wrong please correct me.
They talked about a case study, a woman who had no sense of balance after an accident because the fluid in her ears was damaged, or something along those lines. They had successfully trained a part of her brain to take responses from an electrical signal placed under her tongue and turn these into a way to balance her.
I've been being very geeky now my exams are over, watching lots of Star Trek, and in the next generation episodes one of the crew is blind and has an electrical visor which allows him to "see". Does anybody know if there has ever been any research into this concept? If you can train the brain to balance using signals under the tongue, could you do something similar but training the brain to recognise visual patterns?
I'd be interested in anything you have to say, thanks!
P.S I'm a 3rd year undergrad physics student with an interest in medical physics, so I'm happy with long physics terms but if you're using medical terminology it'd be helpful if you could explain them. Thanks!