Medical Bionics - Research Publications

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    Blood glucose modulation and safety of efferent vagus nerve stimulation in a type 2 diabetic rat model
    Payne, SC ; Ward, G ; Fallon, JB ; Hyakumura, T ; Prins, JB ; Andrikopoulos, S ; MacIsaac, RJ ; Villalobos, J (WILEY, 2022-04-01)
    Vagus nerve stimulation is emerging as a promising treatment for type 2 diabetes. Here, we evaluated the ability of stimulation of the vagus nerve to reduce glycemia in awake, freely moving metabolically compromised rats. A model of type 2 diabetes (n = 10) was induced using a high-fat diet and low doses of streptozotocin. Stimulation of the abdominal vagus nerve was achieved by pairing 15 Hz pulses on a distal pair of electrodes with high-frequency blocking stimulation (26 kHz, 4 mA) on a proximal pair of electrodes to preferentially produce efferent conducting activity (eVNS). Stimulation was well tolerated in awake, freely moving rats. During 1 h of eVNS, glycemia decreased in 90% of subjects (-1.25 ± 1.25 mM h, p = 0.017), and 2 dB above neural threshold was established as the most effective "dose" of eVNS (p = 0.009). Following 5 weeks of implantation, eVNS was still effective, resulting in significantly decreased glycemia (-1.7 ± 0.6 mM h, p = 0.003) during 1 h of eVNS. There were no overt changes in fascicle area or signs of histopathological damage observed in implanted vagal nerve tissue following chronic implantation and stimulation. Demonstration of the biocompatibility and safety of eVNS in awake, metabolically compromised animals is a critical first step to establishing this therapy for clinical use. With further development, eVNS could be a promising novel therapy for treating type 2 diabetes.
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    Platinum dissolution and tissue response following long-term electrical stimulation at high charge densities
    Shepherd, RK ; Carter, PM ; Dalrymple, AN ; Enke, YL ; Wise, AK ; Nguyen, T ; Firth, J ; Thompson, A ; Fallon, JB (IOP PUBLISHING LTD, 2021-04-01)
    Objective. Established guidelines for safe levels of electrical stimulation for neural prostheses are based on a limited range of the stimulus parameters used clinically. Recent studies have reported particulate platinum (Pt) associated with long-term clinical use of these devices, highlighting the need for more carefully defined safety limits. We previously reported no adverse effects of Pt corrosion products in the cochleae of guinea pigs following 4 weeks of electrical stimulation using charge densities far greater than the published safe limits for cochlear implants. The present study examines the histopathological effects of Pt within the cochlea following continuous stimulation at a charge density well above the defined safe limits for periods up to 6 months.Approach. Six cats were bilaterally implanted with Pt electrode arrays and unilaterally stimulated using charge balanced current pulses at a charge density of 267μC cm-2phase-1using a tripolar electrode configuration. Electrochemical measurements were made throughout the implant duration and evoked potentials recorded at the outset and on completion of the stimulation program. Cochleae were examined histologically for particulate Pt, tissue response, and auditory nerve survival; electrodes were examined for surface corrosion; and cochlea, brain, kidney, and liver tissue analysed for trace levels of Pt.Main results. Chronic stimulation resulted in both a significant increase in tissue response and particulate Pt within the tissue capsule surrounding the electrode array compared with implanted, unstimulated control cochleae. Importantly, there was no stimulus-induced loss of auditory neurons (ANs) or increase in evoked potential thresholds. Stimulated electrodes were significantly more corroded compared with unstimulated electrodes. Trace analysis revealed Pt in both stimulated and control cochleae although significantly greater levels were detected within stimulated cochleae. There was no evidence of Pt in brain or liver; however, trace levels of Pt were recorded in the kidneys of two animals. Finally, increased charge storage capacity and charge injection limit reflected the more extensive electrode corrosion associated with stimulated electrodes.Significance. Long-term electrical stimulation of Pt electrodes at a charge density well above existing safety limits and nearly an order of magnitude higher than levels used clinically, does not adversely affect the AN population or reduce neural function, despite a stimulus-induced tissue response and the accumulation of Pt corrosion product. The mechanism resulting in Pt within the unstimulated cochlea is unclear, while the level of Pt observed systemically following stimulation at these very high charge densities does not appear to be of clinical significance.
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    Computational modelling of nerve stimulation and recording with peripheral visceral neural interfaces
    Eiber, CD ; Payne, SC ; Biscola, NP ; Havton, LA ; Keast, JR ; Osborne, PB ; Fallon, JB (IOP Publishing Ltd, 2021-12-01)
    Objective.Neuromodulation of visceral nerves is being intensively studied for treating a wide range of conditions, but effective translation requires increasing the efficacy and predictability of neural interface performance. Here we use computational models of rat visceral nerve to predict how neuroanatomical variability could affect both electrical stimulation and recording with an experimental planar neural interface.Approach.We developed a hybrid computational pipeline,VisceralNerveEnsembleRecording andStimulation (ViNERS), to couple finite-element modelling of extracellular electrical fields with biophysical simulations of individual axons. Anatomical properties of fascicles and axons in rat pelvic and vagus nerves were measured or obtained from public datasets. To validate ViNERS, we simulated pelvic nerve stimulation and recording with an experimental four-electrode planar array.Main results.Axon diameters measured from pelvic nerve were used to model a population of myelinated and unmyelinated axons and simulate recordings of electrically evoked single-unit field potentials (SUFPs). Across visceral nerve fascicles of increasing size, our simulations predicted an increase in stimulation threshold and a decrease in SUFP amplitude. Simulated threshold changes were dominated by changes in perineurium thickness, which correlates with fascicle diameter. We also demonstrated that ViNERS could simulate recordings of electrically-evoked compound action potentials (ECAPs) that were qualitatively similar to pelvic nerve recording made with the array used for simulation.Significance.We introduce ViNERS as a new open-source computational tool for modelling large-scale stimulation and recording from visceral nerves. ViNERS predicts how neuroanatomical variation in rat pelvic nerve affects stimulation and recording with an experimental planar electrode array. We show ViNERS can simulate ECAPS that capture features of our recordings, but our results suggest the underlying NEURON models need to be further refined and specifically adapted to accurately simulate visceral nerve axons.
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    Improving Deep Brain Stimulation Electrode Performance in vivo Through Use of Conductive Hydrogel Coatings.
    Hyakumura, T ; Aregueta-Robles, U ; Duan, W ; Villalobos, J ; Adams, WK ; Poole-Warren, L ; Fallon, JB (Frontiers Media SA, 2021)
    Active implantable neurological devices like deep brain stimulators have been used over the past few decades to treat movement disorders such as those in people with Parkinson's disease and more recently, in psychiatric conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder. Electrode-tissue interfaces that support safe and effective targeting of specific brain regions are critical to success of these devices. Development of directional electrodes that activate smaller volumes of brain tissue requires electrodes to operate safely with higher charge densities. Coatings such as conductive hydrogels (CHs) provide lower impedances and higher charge injection limits (CILs) than standard platinum electrodes and support safer application of smaller electrode sizes. The aim of this study was to examine the chronic in vivo performance of a new low swelling CH coating that supports higher safe charge densities than traditional platinum electrodes. A range of hydrogel blends were engineered and their swelling and electrical performance compared. Electrochemical performance and stability of high and low swelling formulations were compared during insertion into a model brain in vitro and the formulation with lower swelling characteristics was chosen for the in vivo study. CH-coated or uncoated Pt electrode arrays were implanted into the brains of 14 rats, and their electrochemical performance was tested weekly for 8 weeks. Tissue response and neural survival was assessed histologically following electrode array removal. CH coating resulted in significantly lower voltage transient impedance, higher CIL, lower electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and higher charge storage capacity compared to uncoated Pt electrodes in vivo, and this advantage was maintained over the 8-week implantation. There was no significant difference in evoked potential thresholds, signal-to-noise ratio, tissue response or neural survival between CH-coated and uncoated Pt groups. The significant electrochemical advantage and stability of CH coating in the brain supports the suitability of this coating technology for future development of smaller, higher fidelity electrode arrays with higher charge density requirement.
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    Neural Electrodes Based on 3D Organic Electroactive Microfibers
    Marroquin, JB ; Coleman, HA ; Tonta, MA ; Zhou, K ; Winther-Jensen, B ; Fallon, J ; Duffy, NW ; Yan, E ; Abdulwahid, AA ; Jasieniak, JJ ; Forsythe, JS ; Parkington, HC (Wiley, 2018-03-21)
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    Viral-mediated transduction of auditory neurons with opsins for optical and hybrid activation
    Richardson, RT ; Thompson, AC ; Wise, AK ; Ajay, EA ; Gunewardene, N ; O'Leary, SJ ; Stoddart, PR ; Fallon, JB (NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-05-27)
    Optical stimulation is a paradigm-shifting approach to modulating neural activity that has the potential to overcome the issue of current spread that occurs with electrical stimulation by providing focused stimuli. But optical stimulation either requires high power infrared light or genetic modification of neurons to make them responsive to lower power visible light. This work examines optical activation of auditory neurons following optogenetic modification via AAV injection in two species (mouse and guinea pig). An Anc80 viral vector was used to express the channelrhodopsin variant ChR2-H134R fused to a fluorescent reporter gene under the control of the human synapsin-1 promoter. The AAV was administered directly to the cochlea (n = 33) or posterior semi-circular canal of C57BL/6 mice (n = 4) or to guinea pig cochleae (n = 6). Light (488 nm), electrical stimuli or the combination of these (hybrid stimulation) was delivered to the cochlea via a laser-coupled optical fibre and co-located platinum wire. Activation thresholds, spread of activation and stimulus interactions were obtained from multi-unit recordings from the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus of injected mice, as well as ChR2-H134R transgenic mice (n = 4). Expression of ChR2-H134R was examined by histology. In the mouse, transduction of auditory neurons by the Anc80 viral vector was most successful when injected at a neonatal age with up to 89% of neurons transduced. Auditory neuron transductions were not successful in guinea pigs. Inferior colliculus responses to optical stimuli were detected in a cochleotopic manner in all mice with ChR2-H134R expression. There was a significant correlation between lower activation thresholds in mice and higher proportions of transduced neurons. There was no difference in spread of activation between optical stimulation and electrical stimulation provided by the light/electrical delivery system used here (optical fibre with bonded 25 µm platinum/iridium wire). Hybrid stimulation, comprised of sub-threshold optical stimulation to 'prime' or raise the excitability of the neurons, lowered the threshold for electrical activation in most cases, but the impact on excitation width was more variable compared to transgenic mice. This study demonstrates the impact of opsin expression levels and expression pattern on optical and hybrid stimulation when considering optical or hybrid stimulation techniques for neuromodulation.
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    Recording of Electrically Evoked Neural Activity and Bladder Pressure Responses in Awake Rats Chronically Implanted With a Pelvic Nerve Array
    Payne, SC ; Wiedmann, NM ; Eiber, CD ; Wong, AW ; Senn, P ; Osborne, PB ; Keast, JR ; Fallon, JB (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-12-17)
    Bioelectronic medical devices are well established and widely used in the treatment of urological dysfunction. Approved targets include the sacral S3 spinal root and posterior tibial nerve, but an alternate target is the group of pelvic splanchnic nerves, as these contain sacral visceral sensory and autonomic motor pathways that coordinate storage and voiding functions of the bladder. Here, we developed a device suitable for long-term use in an awake rat model to study electrical neuromodulation of the pelvic nerve (homolog of the human pelvic splanchnic nerves). In male Sprague-Dawley rats, custom planar four-electrode arrays were implanted over the distal end of the pelvic nerve, close to the major pelvic ganglion. Electrically evoked compound action potentials (ECAPs) were reliably detected under anesthesia and in chronically implanted, awake rats up to 8 weeks post-surgery. ECAP waveforms showed three peaks, with latencies that suggested electrical stimulation activated several subpopulations of myelinated A-fiber and unmyelinated C-fiber axons. Chronic implantation of the array did not impact on voiding evoked in awake rats by continuous cystometry, where void parameters were comparable to those published in naïve rats. Electrical stimulation with chronically implanted arrays also induced two classes of bladder pressure responses detected by continuous flow cystometry in awake rats: voiding contractions and non-voiding contractions. No evidence of tissue pathology produced by chronically implanted arrays was detected by immunohistochemical visualization of markers for neuronal injury or noxious spinal cord activation. These results demonstrate a rat pelvic nerve electrode array that can be used for preclinical development of closed loop neuromodulation devices targeting the pelvic nerve as a therapy for neuro-urological dysfunction.
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    Oculomotor Responses to Dynamic Stimuli in a 44-Channel Suprachoroidal Retinal Prosthesis
    Titchener, SA ; Kvansakul, J ; Shivdasani, MN ; Fallon, JB ; Nayagam, DAX ; Epp, SB ; Williams, CE ; Barnes, N ; Kentler, WG ; Kolic, M ; Baglin, EK ; Ayton, LN ; Abbott, CJ ; Luu, CD ; Allen, PJ ; Petoe, MA (ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2020-12-01)
    Purpose: To investigate oculomotor behavior in response to dynamic stimuli in retinal implant recipients. Methods: Three suprachoroidal retinal implant recipients performed a four-alternative forced-choice motion discrimination task over six sessions longitudinally. Stimuli were a single white bar ("moving bar") or a series of white bars ("moving grating") sweeping left, right, up, or down across a 42″ monitor. Performance was compared with normal video processing and scrambled video processing (randomized image-to-electrode mapping to disrupt spatiotemporal structure). Eye and head movement was monitored throughout the task. Results: Two subjects had diminished performance with scrambling, suggesting retinotopic discrimination was used in the normal condition and made smooth pursuit eye movements congruent to the moving bar stimulus direction. These two subjects also made stimulus-related eye movements resembling optokinetic reflex (OKR) for moving grating stimuli, but the movement was incongruent with stimulus direction. The third subject was less adept at the task, appeared primarily reliant on head position cues (head movements were congruent to stimulus direction), and did not exhibit retinotopic discrimination and associated eye movements. Conclusions: Our observation of smooth pursuit indicates residual functionality of cortical direction-selective circuits and implies a more naturalistic perception of motion than expected. A distorted OKR implies improper functionality of retinal direction-selective circuits, possibly due to retinal remodeling or the non-selective nature of the electrical stimulation. Translational Relevance: Retinal implant users can make naturalistic eye movements in response to moving stimuli, highlighting the potential for eye tracker feedback to improve perceptual localization and image stabilization in camera-based visual prostheses.
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    Objective measurement of tinnitus using functional near-infrared spectroscopy and machine learning
    Shoushtarian, M ; Alizadehsani, R ; Khosravi, A ; Acevedo, N ; McKay, CM ; Nahavandi, S ; Fallon, JB ; Dalla Mora, A (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-11-18)
    Chronic tinnitus is a debilitating condition which affects 10-20% of adults and can severely impact their quality of life. Currently there is no objective measure of tinnitus that can be used clinically. Clinical assessment of the condition uses subjective feedback from individuals which is not always reliable. We investigated the sensitivity of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to differentiate individuals with and without tinnitus and to identify fNIRS features associated with subjective ratings of tinnitus severity. We recorded fNIRS signals in the resting state and in response to auditory or visual stimuli from 25 individuals with chronic tinnitus and 21 controls matched for age and hearing loss. Severity of tinnitus was rated using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory and subjective ratings of tinnitus loudness and annoyance were measured on a visual analogue scale. Following statistical group comparisons, machine learning methods including feature extraction and classification were applied to the fNIRS features to classify patients with tinnitus and controls and differentiate tinnitus at different severity levels. Resting state measures of connectivity between temporal regions and frontal and occipital regions were significantly higher in patients with tinnitus compared to controls. In the tinnitus group, temporal-occipital connectivity showed a significant increase with subject ratings of loudness. Also in this group, both visual and auditory evoked responses were significantly reduced in the visual and auditory regions of interest respectively. Naïve Bayes classifiers were able to classify patients with tinnitus from controls with an accuracy of 78.3%. An accuracy of 87.32% was achieved using Neural Networks to differentiate patients with slight/ mild versus moderate/ severe tinnitus. Our findings show the feasibility of using fNIRS and machine learning to develop an objective measure of tinnitus. Such a measure would greatly benefit clinicians and patients by providing a tool to objectively assess new treatments and patients' treatment progress.
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    Gaze Compensation as a Technique for Improving Hand-Eye Coordination in Prosthetic Vision
    Titchener, SA ; Shivdasani, MN ; Fallon, JB ; Petoe, MA (ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2018-01-01)
    PURPOSE: Shifting the region-of-interest within the input image to compensate for gaze shifts ("gaze compensation") may improve hand-eye coordination in visual prostheses that incorporate an external camera. The present study investigated the effects of eye movement on hand-eye coordination under simulated prosthetic vision (SPV), and measured the coordination benefits of gaze compensation. METHODS: Seven healthy-sighted subjects performed a target localization-pointing task under SPV. Three conditions were tested, modeling: retinally stabilized phosphenes (uncompensated); gaze compensation; and no phosphene movement (center-fixed). The error in pointing was quantified for each condition. RESULTS: Gaze compensation yielded a significantly smaller pointing error than the uncompensated condition for six of seven subjects, and a similar or smaller pointing error than the center-fixed condition for all subjects (two-way ANOVA, P < 0.05). Pointing error eccentricity and gaze eccentricity were moderately correlated in the uncompensated condition (azimuth: R2 = 0.47; elevation: R2 = 0.51) but not in the gaze-compensated condition (azimuth: R2 = 0.01; elevation: R2 = 0.00). Increased variability in gaze at the time of pointing was correlated with greater reduction in pointing error in the center-fixed condition compared with the uncompensated condition (R2 = 0.64). CONCLUSIONS: Eccentric eye position impedes hand-eye coordination in SPV. While limiting eye eccentricity in uncompensated viewing can reduce errors, gaze compensation is effective in improving coordination for subjects unable to maintain fixation. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: The results highlight the present necessity for suppressing eye movement and support the use of gaze compensation to improve hand-eye coordination and localization performance in prosthetic vision.