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Kiran Nimmagadda, James D. Weiland; Retinotopic Responses in the Visual Cortex Elicited by Epiretinal Electrical Stimulation in Normal and Retinal Degenerate Rats. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2018;7(5):33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.7.5.33.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Electronic retinal prostheses restore vision in people with outer retinal degeneration by electrically stimulating the inner retina. We characterized visual cortex electrophysiologic response elicited by electrical stimulation of retina in normally sighted and retinal degenerate rats.
Nine normally sighted Long Evans and 11 S334ter line 3 retinal degenerate (rd) rats were used to map cortical responses elicited by epiretinal electrical stimulation in four quadrants of the retina. Six normal and six rd rats were used to compare the dendritic spine density of neurons in the visual cortex.
The rd rats required higher stimulus amplitudes to elicit responses in the visual cortex. The cortical electrically evoked responses (EERs) for both healthy and rd rats show a dose-response characteristic with respect to the stimulus amplitude. The EER maps in healthy rats show retinotopic organization. For rd rats, cortical retinotopy is not well preserved. The neurons in the visual cortex of rd rats show a 10% higher dendritic spine density than in the healthy rats.
Cortical activity maps, produced when epiretinal stimulation is applied to quadrants of the retina, exhibit retinotopy in normal but not rd rats. This is likely due to a combination of degeneration of the retina and increased stimulus thresholds in rd, which broadens the activated area of the retina.
Loss of retinotopy is evident in rd rats. If a similar loss of retinotopy is present in humans, retinal prostheses design must include flexibility to account for patient specific variability.
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