Video of Oliver Sacks discussing hallucinations

TED Talks has posted a video of neurologist Oliver Sacks discussing hallucinations — particularly Charles Bonnet hallucinations, which occur among many visually-impaired people.

Oliver Sacks is known for his investigation of neurological disorders that result in bizarre experiences and behavior. One of Sacks’s early books was calledAwakenings, which was made into a movie of the same name, with Robin Williams playing a doctor based on Sacks, and Robert Deniro playing a catatonic patient who ‘comes back to life’ through an experimental treatment.

Some of my favorite Sacks books are The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat andAn Anthropologist on Mars. Sacks is a great writer, and his books are very entertaining as well as informative.

The video is about 18 minutes — see “Oliver Sacks: What Hallucination Reveals About Our Minds.”

AB — 17 Sept. 2009


Bionic eye is restoring sight for blind

BBC is carrying an interesting story today about some initial successes in trials of a bionic eye — see “Bionic eye gives blind man sight.”

Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK is carrying out trials of the technology with three patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes retinal degeneration. Eighteen patients around the world are participating in trials.

The bionic eye is able to send “meaningful visual stimuli” to the brains of patients, according to a retinal surgeon.

As an example of what it can do, one patient quoted in the BBC article says the device allows him to sort light from dark laundry.

Here’s a video that gives an idea how the technology works.

AB — 4 March 2009