Neurophysiological considerations for visual implants

Sabrina J. Meikle, Yan T. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Neural implants have the potential to restore visual capabilities in blind individuals by electrically stimulating the neurons of the visual system. This stimulation can produce visual percepts known as phosphenes. The ideal location of electrical stimulation for achieving vision restoration is widely debated and dependent on the physiological properties of the targeted tissue. Here, the neurophysiology of several potential target structures within the visual system will be explored regarding their benefits and downfalls in producing phosphenes. These regions will include the lateral geniculate nucleus, primary visual cortex, visual area 2, visual area 3, visual area 4 and the middle temporal area. Based on the existing engineering limitations of neural prostheses, we anticipate that electrical stimulation of any singular brain region will be incapable of achieving high-resolution naturalistic perception including color, texture, shape and motion. As improvements in visual acuity facilitate improvements in quality of life, emulating naturalistic vision should be one of the ultimate goals of visual prostheses. To achieve this goal, we propose that multiple brain areas will need to be targeted in unison enabling different aspects of vision to be recreated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1523–1543
Number of pages21
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2021


  • Cortical implant
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Neurophysiology
  • Phosphene
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual prosthesis

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