Demonstration of artificial visual percepts generated through thalamic microstimulation

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 1;104(18):7670-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0608563104. Epub 2007 Apr 23.


Electrical stimulation of the visual system might serve as the foundation for a prosthetic device for the blind. We examined whether microstimulation of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus can generate localized visual percepts in alert monkeys. To assess electrically generated percepts, an eye-movement task was used with targets presented on a computer screen (optically) or through microstimulation of the lateral geniculate nucleus (electrically). Saccades (fast, direct eye movements) made to electrical targets were comparable to saccades made to optical targets. Gaze locations for electrical targets were well predicted by measured visual response maps of cells at the electrode tips. With two electrodes, two distinct targets could be independently created. A sequential saccade task verified that electrical targets were processed not in motor coordinates, but in visual spatial coordinates. Microstimulation produced predictable visual percepts, showing that this technique may be useful for a visual prosthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Organs*
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*