ESI Lecture by Anna Wang Roe

Functionally Specific Optical Stimulation of Brain Circuits

Visual cortical prosthetics have been based on neural activation via electrical stimulation. Such approaches have evoked crude visual percepts of light (termed phosphenes) in monkeys and humans. As such percepts are relatively crude, these methods have failed to gain traction. A primary shortcoming of these designs was the failure to take advantage of inherent functional organization in the cerebral cortex. Here, I explore optical methods to stimulate known functional architectures in a targeted and selective way. Our evidence indicates that such stimulation achieves functional network-specificity and intensity dependence in a way that mimics visual stimulation. Application of this approach to known feature domains (such as color, orientation, motion, and depth) in visual cortex may lead to increased specificity and sophistication of visual cortical prosthetics.