Probing and predicting ganglion cell responses to smooth electrical stimulation in healthy and blind mouse retina

Probing and predicting ganglion cell responses to smooth electrical stimulation in healthy and blind mouse retina
Larissa Höfling, Jonathan Oesterle, Phillipp Berens, Günther Zeck
5248 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61899-y

Retinal implants are used to replace lost photoreceptors in blind patients suffering from retinopathies such as retinitis pigmentosa. Patients wearing implants regain some rudimentary visual function. However, it is severely limited compared to normal vision because non-physiological stimulation strategies fail to selectively activate different retinal pathways at sufficient spatial and temporal resolution. The development of improved stimulation strategies is rendered difficult by the large space of potential stimuli. Here we systematically explore a subspace of potential stimuli by electrically stimulating healthy and blind mouse retina in epiretinal configuration using smooth Gaussian white noise delivered by a high-density CMOS-based microelectrode array. We identify linear filters of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by fitting a linear-nonlinear-Poisson (LNP) model. Our stimulus evokes spatially and temporally confined spiking responses in RGC which are accurately predicted by the LNP model. Furthermore, we find diverse shapes of linear filters in the linear stage of the model, suggesting diverse preferred electrical stimuli of RGCs. The linear filter base identified by our approach could provide a starting point of a model-guided search for improved stimuli for retinal prosthetics.