Front. Neurosci., 12 February 2010 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/neuro.20.001.2010
The Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation, Boston VA Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Department of Neurophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA, USA
We are investigating the use of novel stimulus waveforms in neural prostheses to determine whether they can provide more precise control over the temporal and spatial pattern of elicited activity as compared to conventional pulsatile stimulation. To study this, we measured the response of retinal ganglion cells to both sinusoidal and white noise waveforms. The use of cell-attached and whole cell patch clamp recordings allowed the responses to be observed without significant obstruction from the stimulus artifact. Electric stimulation with sinusoids elicited robust responses. White noise analysis was used to derive the linear kernel for the ganglion cell’s spiking response as well as for the underlying excitatory currents. These results suggest that in response to electric stimulation, presynaptic retinal neurons exhibit bandpass filtering characteristics with a peak response that occurs 25 ms after onset. The experimental approach demonstrated here may be useful for studying the temporal response properties of other neurons in the CNS.