Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

Edward Bartlett

Committee Member 1

Pedro Irazoqui

Committee Member 2

Michael Heinz

Committee Member 3

Kevin Otto

Committee Member 4

Sliman Bensmaia


Brain-machine interfaces aim to restore natural sensation or locomotion to individuals who have lost such ability. While the field of neuroprostheses has developed some flagship technologies which have enjoyed great clinical success, such as the cochlear implant, it is generally understood that no single device will be ideal for all patients. For example, the cochlear implant is unable to help patients suffering from neurofibromatosis type 2, which is commonly characterized by bilateral vestibular schwannomas for which surgical removal requires transection of the auditory nerve. In an effort to develop stimulatory neuroprostheses which can help the maximum number of patients, research groups have developed central sensory neuroprostheses. However, moving through ascending sensory processing centers introduces more uniqueness of neuronal feature selectivity and greater coding complexity, and chronic implantation of devices becomes less efficacious as the brain’s glial cells respond to implanted devices. In this work, we propose a neuroprosthetic targeting auditory thalamus, specifically the ventral division of the medial geniculate body (MGV). Thalamus represents an information bottleneck through which many sensory systems send information. Primary (MGV) and non-primary (MGD, MGM) subdivisions provide parallel auditory inputs to cortex and receive feedback excitation and inhibition from cortex and thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), respectively. We characterize the potential of the thalamocortical circuit as a neuroprosthetic target through electrophysiological, behavioral, and histological methods.