Current Projects

switchBoard - In the eye of the observer: Visual processing at the heart of the retina

EU Innovative Training Networks (ITN) Call: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015, 2015-2019, partner

The goal of switchBoard is to elucidate the functionality of retinal bipolar cells as their output signals form the first 'elementary operations' from which the neural circuits of the inner retina compose a feature-oriented description of the visual world. The switchBoard consortium combines the expertise of 11 beneficiaries in 8 european countries and aims to educate young scientists at the interface of neurobiology, information processing and neurotechnology.


Upper threshold phenomenon and its impact on neuroprostheses

Stand-alone project to Frank Rattay, Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2017-2021

Recently, a biophysical principle was proposed that should explain the inhibition of action potentials observed in the soma of neurons if strong cathodic stimulation is applied with micro-electrodes. It was suggested that the strong electric field causes an outflow of sodium ions, which in turn prevents action potential generation. It is, however, unclear if this effect of current reversal (also Upper threshold phenomenon) is of practical relevance, since there is an alternative well-described biophysical explanation. Within the scope of this project detailed computational models and experimental validation should give deeper insights in the how and why action potential generation is facilitated or prevented during external microstimulation.

Abstract (german)

Experimental identification of calcium current reversal in retinal bipolar cell terminals

Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship to Paul Werginz, Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2017-2020

Electrical stimulation of neurons is employed in the field of neuroprosthetics to artificially generate or block neural activity. Such an activation of retinal neurons in a controlled way is one possibility to restore a rudimentary kind of vision in blind patients. A general approach for coordinated electrical stimulation of retinal neurons, however, has not been found so far. Especially the dynamics of calcium channels in bipolar cells which are necessary for synaptic activity in the retina are not well understood. Therefore, in the course of this project multiple electrophysiological experiments in mammalian retina in-vitro will be performed in order to investigate the detailed properties of these ion channels during electrical stimulation.

Abstract (german) & http://friedlab.mgh.harvard.edu/


Completed projects (since 2000)

Selective cell stimulation with retinal implants

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2014-2017

Augmentation of residual neural control by non-invasive spinal cord stimulation to modify spasticity in spinal cord injured people

Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF), 2011-2015, partner

Human cochlear nerve model

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2009-2013

Neuromodulation method for improving mobility in paraplegics

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2008-2011

Electrical stimulation of the denervated human thigh

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2006-2009

Modeling LLPG activity in incomplete SCI subjects

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2002-2006