MSE Research Project Database

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

Project 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)
Primary Contact: David Grayden (
Keywords: biomedical engineering; bionic eye; computational biology; computational neuroscience
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences
Research Centre: Neuroengineering Research Laboratory

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.