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Bernhard Sabel and ‘Residual Vision Activation Theory’: a History Spanning Three Decades

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This review has the purpose of retracing the work of Professor Bernard Sabel and his group over the last 2–3 decades, in order to understand how they achieved formulation of the ‘Residual Vision Activation Theory’. The methodology proposed is described, from the first studies in 1995 with High Resolution Perimetry requiring a six-months training period, to the new technologies, such as repetitive transorbital Alternating Current Stimulation, that require ten days of training. Vision restoration therapy has shown improvement in visual responses irrespective of age at the training, lesion aetiology and site of lesion. The hypothesis that visual training may induce network plasticity, improving neuronal networks in cortical and subcortical areas of both hemispheres, appears to be confirmed by recent studies including observation of the cerebral activity by fMRI and EEG. However, the results are quite variable and the mechanisms that influence cerebral activity are still unclear. The residual vision activation theory has been much criticized, both for its methodology and analysis of the results, but it gave a new impulse to the research in this area, stimulating more studies on induced cerebral plasticity.

Affiliations: 1: 1National Centre of Services and Research for Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of Visually Impaired, Rome, Italy; 2: 2Pediatric Neurology Unit, Catholic University, Rome, Italy


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