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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Aug;44(8):3533-43.

Thresholds for activation of rabbit retinal ganglion cells with an ultrafine, extracellular microelectrode.

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Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation, VA Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



To determine electrical thresholds required for extracellular activation of retinal ganglion cells as part of a project to develop an epiretinal prosthesis.


Retinal ganglion cells were recorded extracellularly in retinas isolated from adult New Zealand White rabbits. Electrical current pulses of 100- micro s duration were delivered to the inner surface of the retina from a 5- micro m long electrode. In about half of the cells, the point of lowest threshold was found by searching with anodal current pulses; in the other cells, cathodal current pulses were used.


Threshold measurements were obtained near the cell bodies of 20 ganglion cells and near the axons of 19 ganglion cells. Both cathodal and anodal stimuli evoked a neural response in the ganglion cells that consisted of a single action potential of near-constant latency that persisted when retinal synaptic transmission was blocked with cadmium chloride. For cell bodies, but not axons, thresholds for both cathodal and anodal stimulation were dependent on the search method used to find the point of lowest threshold. With search and stimulation of matching polarity, cathodal stimuli evoked a ganglion cell response at lower currents (approximately one seventh to one tenth axonal threshold) than did anodal stimuli for both cell bodies and axons. With cathodal search and stimulation, cell body median thresholds were somewhat lower (approximately one half) than the axonal median thresholds. With anodal search and stimulation, cell body median thresholds were approximately the same as axonal median thresholds.


The results suggest that cathodal stimulation should produce lower thresholds, more localized stimulation, and somewhat better selectivity for cell bodies over axons than would anodal stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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