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Visiting speaker Dr John S. Pezaris, Visual Prosthesis Laboratory, Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School will give a talk on “The Thalamic Visual Prosthesis Project” on Thursday 20/10.


The field of visual prosthetics has concentrated primarily on two targets for stimulation, the retina and the primary visual cortex. The lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, the relay station between these two areas, has been largely ignored because of the difficulty of the surgical approach. The development of deep brain stimulation techniques for addressing pathologies of the midbrain has opened surgical access to the thalamus and motivates a reconsideration of targets for visual prosthetics. With this background, we have performed experiments in an animal model to demonstrate a proof of concept for a visual prosthesis based on thalamic microstimulation, followed by an experiment in a computer model to set basic engineering parameters for a thalamic visual prosthesis, in turn, followed by a series of experiments with sighted humans to assess design performance. In this presentation, we will review the compelling motivation for the thalamic approach, review the experimental results thus far, and provide a preview of future work.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Pezaris has a background in computer science and electrical engineering with degrees from MIT, and in neurophysiology with a doctorate from California Institute of Technology, and post-doctoral experience at Harvard Medical School. He currently leads a research laboratory in the Neurosurgery Department at Massachusetts General Hospital with an appointment at Harvard Medical School. He will be visiting the University of Athens for Spring 2017 as a Fulbright Scholar.

The presentation is available here.


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