Focal electrical stimulation of major ganglion cell types in the primate retina for the design of visual prostheses

Jepson, Lauren H and Hottowy, Pawel and Mathieson, Keith and Gunning, Deborah E and Dąbrowski, Władysław and Litke, Alan M and Chichilnisky, E J (2013) Focal electrical stimulation of major ganglion cell types in the primate retina for the design of visual prostheses. Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (17). pp. 7194-7205. ISSN 0270-6474

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Abstract

Electrical stimulation of retinal neurons with an advanced retinal prosthesis may eventually provide high-resolution artificial vision to the blind. However, the success of future prostheses depends on the ability to activate the major parallel visual pathways of the human visual system. Electrical stimulation of the five numerically dominant retinal ganglion cell types was investigated by simultaneous stimulation and recording in isolated peripheral primate (Macaca sp.) retina using multi-electrode arrays. ON and OFF midget, ON and OFF parasol, and small bistratified ganglion cells could all be activated directly to fire a single spike with submillisecond latency using brief pulses of current within established safety limits. Thresholds for electrical stimulation were similar in all five cell types. In many cases, a single cell could be specifically activated without activating neighboring cells of the same type or other types. These findings support the feasibility of direct electrical stimulation of the major visual pathways at or near their native spatial and temporal resolution.