A Neural Stimulator for a Vestibular Prosthesis Utilizing a Low-Power Field-Programmable Analog Array



A current stimulator designed for activation of vestibular neurons is presented. This circuitry provides biphasic currents from 10µA to 530µA in two percent increments on a single channel using, for the first time, a field programmable analog array (FPAA). The stimulator will serve as an integral component of a vestibular prosthesis—a neural prosthesis that measures head motion using angular rate sensors (gyroscopes) and selectively stimulates vestibular neurons to replace lost sensory input from the peripheral vestibular system. Such input is critical for balance, gait, and stabilizing vision during head motion. Pursuing an FPAA-based architecture is attractive since it is a low-power, analog signal-processing option. The FPAA presented here has demonstrated reduction in power consumption by over four orders of magnitude when compared with contemporary digital signal processing microprocessor implementations. Furthermore, since the FPAA is reconfigurable, this strategy dramatically reduces the design, fabrication, and testing cycle-time from months to weeks. In addition, its reconfigurability enables the extension of function beyond neural stimulation to include sensor interface circuitry, signal processing and control. Thus this FPAA may eventually enable the rapid implementation of a single-chip solution for vestibular prostheses development.

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