Investigating the effects of mechanical stimulation on retinal ganglion cell spontaneous spiking activity

Marica Marrese, Davide Lonardoni, Fabio Boi, Hedde van Hoorn, Alessandro Maccione, Stefano Zordan, Davide Iannuzzi*, Luca Berdondini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mechanical forces are increasingly recognized as major regulators of several physiological processes at both the molecular and cellular level; therefore, a deep understanding of the sensing of these forces and their conversion into electrical signals are essential for studying the mechanosensitive properties of soft biological tissues. To contribute to this field, we present a dual-purpose device able to mechanically stimulate retinal tissue and to record the spiking activity of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). This new instrument relies on combining ferrule-top micro-indentation, which provides local measurements of viscoelasticity, with high-density multi-electrode array (HD-MEAs) to simultaneously record the spontaneous activity of the retina. In this paper, we introduce this instrument, describe its technical characteristics, and present a proof-of-concept experiment that shows how RGC spiking activity of explanted mice retinas respond to mechanical micro-stimulations of their photoreceptor layer. The data suggest that, under specific conditions of indentation, the retina perceive the mechanical stimulation as modulation of the visual input, besides the longer time-scale of activation, and the increase in spiking activity is not only localized under the indentation probe, but it propagates across the retinal tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1023
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberSEPTEMBER
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2019


  • High-density electrophysiology
  • Mechanical stimulation
  • Neural circuits
  • Retina
  • Spontaneous activity
  • Viscoelasticity


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