Modeling current flow and neuronal activation due to electrical stimulation of the retina for the bionic eye

Project description

Electrical stimulation of the retina has been shown to elicit visual percepts, known as phosphenes, through the direct activation of retinal neurons. However, controlling the size, shape, and colour of these percepts in order to create realistic visual percepts is an active, challenging area of research. Computational modeling can provide insights into how current flows through retinal tissue and how this current leads to the activation of different neurons, which, in turn, can aid in developing improved stimulation strategies.

The aims of this project are:

  1. To validate analytical models of neuronal responses to extracellular electrical stimulation using detailed, multiple compartment models of single neurons.
  2. To incorporate these single-cell models into detailed network models of the retina using connectivity and morphology data obtained experimentally.
  3. To develop models of current flow through the extracellular space using the same experimentally obtained tissue data.
  4. To develop numerical simulations of electrical stimulation strategies for controlling neural activity in degenerate retinal tissue.

Project team

Leader: Robert Kerr

Staff: David Grayden, Anthony Burkitt, Hamish Meffin

Collaborators: Robert Kerr (IBM Research, Melbourne) John Wagner (IBM Research, Melbourne) James Kozloski (IBM Research, New York) Viatcheslav Gurev (IBM Research, New York)

Other projects

Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences projects

Research Centre

Neuroengineering Research Laboratory


Biomedical Engineering


Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences


biomedical engineering; bionic eye; computational biology; computational neuroscience