HearLight is an EU-funded project involving 5 institutions and one industry partner and aims to boost precision in auditory rehabilitation strategies for a broad range of deafness conditions. The consortium is led by the Institut Pasteur’s Hearing Institute in Paris by Dr. Brice Bathellier. We are investigating a radically new approach that targets the brain rather than the ear. It combines bioelectronics and optogenetics technologies to apply precise stimulation patterns in the auditory cortex, a crucial brain area for auditory perception.​

Initial experiments are being conducted using rigid µLED devices mounted onto the mouse cortical surface. The next devices will be on a flexible substrate to conform to the cortical surface better.

System concept

Left) A µLED matrix projects patterned light on to cortical structures and drives optogenetic responses in the underlying auditory cortical circuits. Right) The tonotopic arrangement of the auditory cortex means that spatiotemporal light patterns can induce different auditory perceptions.​

µLED device for cortical surface stimulation

a) A 2x2 mm device with a 10 by 10 array of µLEDs (each 40 µm square) addressed through 20 contacts in a matrix fashion. b) Each µLED can deliver ~40 mW/mm2 to the superficial cortical layers. c) A custom-designed electronic control system allows head-fixed experiments over the entire mouse auditory cortex. d) m-transfer printed membrane µLEDs on a flexible substrate are being fabricated with our partners at EMSE.

The Strathclyde funding for this research comes from the Royal Academy of Engineering through their Chair in Emerging Technology scheme and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 964568