Capacitive-like photovoltaic epiretinal stimulation enhances and narrows the network-mediated activity of retinal ganglion cells by recruiting the lateral inhibitory network

Photovoltaic retinal prostheses theoretically offer the possibility of a standalone high-resolution electrical stimulation of the retina. However, achieving focused epiretinal stimulation is particularly challenging, because of axonal activation and electrical cell coupling. Recent evidence shows that long electric pulses allow for a more focal activation of retinal ganglion cells, and non-rectangular waveforms induce higher network-mediated indirect activity. Objective. The role of the pulse shape in focusing the retinal ganglion cell activation and the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Approach. To address this question, we implemented a hybrid ex-vivo and in-silico approach. We recorded the evoked activity of retinas explanted from retinal degeneration 10 mice upon photovoltaic and electrical stimulation with rectangular or non-rectangular capacitive-like voltage pulses. Moreover, we used a biophysical model to investigate the role of the pulse shape and the pulse duration on the genesis and the extent of the network-mediated activity in retinal ganglion cells. Main results. Altogether our results suggest that non-rectangular capacitive-like voltage pulses activate stronger the inner excitatory and inhibitory layers of the retina when compared to a rectangular stimulation with paired pulse amplitude and duration. This feature leads to an increase of the network-mediated activity and a decrease in the network-mediated electrical receptive field of the stimulated retinal ganglion cell. Significance. These results demonstrate that recruiting the inner retinal cells with epiretinal stimulation enables not only to bypass axonal stimulation but also to obtain a more focal activation thanks to the natural lateral inhibition. The involvement of the inhibitory feedback from amacrine cells in the genesis of the network-mediated activity represents a novel biological tool to confine the response of the retinal ganglion cells. These results support future waveform engineering strategies and offer new perspectives to epiretinal devices to better shape prosthetic perception.


Published in:
Journal of Neural Engineering
Year:
Aug 06 2019
Note:
Accepted Manuscript online 6 August 2019
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 Record created 2019-08-07, last modified 2019-08-07


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