Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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BCCN AG-Seminar

Tuesday, 10.03.2009 17 c.t.

Optical stimulation of neural tissue: Is this the future for neural prostheses?

by Prof. Dr. Claus-Peter Richter
from Department of Otolaryngology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Contact person: Fred Wolf


Seminarraum Haus 2, 4. Stock (Bunsenstr.)


The design of speech processors for cochlear implants relies on several assumptions regarding users' perceptual responses to electrical stimulation. These assumptions are that each electrode contact is distinct, both spatially and temporally, or equivalently that deleterious electrode interaction does not occur. However, electrode interaction does occur and the limitation is based on fundamental physical principles of electrical stimulation that even the best electrode design has not yet overcome. In contrast to electrical stimulation, we will present recordings from the guinea pig inferior colliculus that show that highly selective neural stimulation is possible with optical radiation. The selectivity of optical stimulation compares well with the selectivity obtained with the presentation of acoustical tones. Stimulation of the auditory nerve with optical radiation at rates up to 1 kHz has been achieved. Furthermore, we will demonstrate that small optical radiation sources have been developed that can be chronically implantation in a cat animal model. Stimulation of the auditory system for extended times is possible. No stimulation related changes in cochlear function could be detected during the periods of stimulation. At present, data suggest that optical stimulation occurs through a temperature gradient in the tissue. These results are a promising step towards designing an optical cochlear prosthesis with improved spatial selectivity of stimulation. This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN260-2006-00006-C / NIH No. N01-DC-6-0006, by NIH Grants R41 DC008515-01 and F31 DC008246-01 and the Capita Foundation.

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