Improving intracortical visual prostheses using complex coding and spontaneous activation states


For the large group of blind patients who cannot profit from a retinal implant, intracortical visual prostheses offer great promise. However, intracortical prostheses have had limited success, mainly because they require strong stimulation currents, which generate only non-specific percepts consisting of large spots of light. Here we address these limitations by exploring a fundamentally different approach: we will target complex response properties of neural populations in areas beyond primary visual cortex to generate more specific percepts and link electrical stimulation patterns in a closed-loop setup to the extensive on-going activity in visual cortex to greatly reduce required stimulation currents. To achieve these goals we will bring together scientists from different fields and complementary experimental methods, supported by a strong backbone in computational and theoretical neuroscience. Research will rely on close collaborations between partners, including mutual data exchange on different levels; data-driven predictive modeling; techniques for multi-site, closed-loop brain stimulation; and sharing of experimental paradigms between the disciplines. Planned work ranges from developing subthreshold stimulation techniques in mice, testing novel stimulation paradigms in non-human primates, evaluating sparse stimulus encoding schemes in humans, up to assessing anatomical & functional constraints on the applicability of an intracortical prosthesis in blind individuals.


Imaging techniques, Computational neurosciences, Electrophisiological approaches, Behavioural methodologies, Electrical and magnetic brain stimulation, Patient cohorts, Animal studies, Intracortical visual prostheses

Call topic

Sensory Disorders

Proposed runtime

2021 - 2024

Project team

Udo Ernst (Coordinator)
Germany (BMBF)
Christopher Pack
Canada (FRQS)
Dirk Jancke
Germany (BMBF)
Bogdan Draganski
Switzerland (SNSF)
Michael Herzog
Switzerland (SNSF)

Lay summary