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Novel System Improves Retinal Prostheses in Mouse Model

Prosthetic encoding system mimics normal retinal processing; allows mice to visually track a stimulus

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A visual prosthetic that mimics normal retinal processing is able to improve retinal prosthetic capability in a mouse model of retinal degeneration, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sheila Nirenberg, Ph.D., and Chethan Pandarinath, Ph.D., from Cornell University in New York City, developed a high-resolution visual prosthetic that converts visual input into the same patterns of action potentials normally produced by the retina. The device consists of an encoder, which converts visual input into the code used by the retinal ganglion cells, and a transducer, which drives the ganglion cells to fire as specified by the code.

The researchers found that, when the device was used in a mouse model of retinal degeneration, ganglion cell firing patterns were produced that matched those of normal retinas. Images reconstructed from the output of the encoder were highly reliable. Mice with the device were also able to visually track a stimulus.

"In sum, our results show that incorporating the code dramatically increases prosthetic capabilities," Nirenberg and Pandarinath conclude. "The coded output combined with high-resolution stimulation makes natural vision restoration possible."

The authors have a patent application filed through Cornell University.

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