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Cochlear Optogenetics for Auditory Research and Prosthetics

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "OptoHear" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Robert-Koch-Strasse 40
postcode: 37075
website: n.a.

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Project website
 Total cost 2˙496˙405 €
 EC max contribution 2˙496˙405 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-12-01   to  2020-11-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Disabling hearing impairment (HI) affects 360 million people worldwide and prevalence increases with age. So far, no causal treatment is available for its most common form, sensorineural HI. I propose to establish, characterize, and employ optogenetic stimulation of the cochlea, which provides unprecedented opportunities for auditory research and promises a fundamental advance of hearing restoration. Sound is encoded by spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) with high frequency-, intensity-, and time-resolution. Hearing can be enabled via electric stimulation of SGNs, which is employed in current hearing restoration with cochlear implants (CIs) and also used in auditory research. CIs enable speech comprehension in most users, but the quality of ‘electric hearing’ is low, with poor frequency resolution. The goal of OptoHear is to overcome this fundamental limitation by increasing the number of independent coding channels via spatially confined optical stimulation of channelrhodopsin (ChR)-expressing SGNs by tens of light emitters along the cochlear axis (cochlear optogenetics). This promises a dramatic improvement in the frequency resolution of artificial sound coding. As proof of principle, we achieved virus-mediated expression of ChR in SGNs, recorded light-evoked auditory activity and demonstrated improved frequency resolution for optical vs. electric stimulation in rodents. We co-developed and implanted optical multichannel CIs and studied their position in the rodent cochlea using X-ray tomography. We will optimize the expression of best-suited ChRs in SGNs, establish multichannel optical stimulation, characterize neuronal responses to cochlear optogenetics along the auditory pathway by physiological and behavioural approaches, and employ cochlear optogenetics for fundamental auditory research. OptoHear will establish and use cochlear optogenetics as a research tool, validate its potential for research and hearing restoration, and prepare translation into the clinic.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Daniel Keppeler, Ricardo Martins Merino, David Lopez de la Morena, Burak Bali, Antoine Tarquin Huet, Anna Gehrt, Christian Wrobel, Swati Subramanian, Tobias Dombrowski, Fred Wolf, Vladan Rankovic, Andreas Neef, Tobias Moser
Ultrafast optogenetic stimulation of the auditory pathway by targeting‐optimized Chronos
published pages: e99649, ISSN: 0261-4189, DOI: 10.15252/embj.201899649
The EMBO Journal 37/24 2019-08-29
2018 Mareike Töpperwien, Regine Gradl, Daniel Keppeler, Malte Vassholz, Alexander Meyer, Roland Hessler, Klaus Achterhold, Bernhard Gleich, Martin Dierolf, Franz Pfeiffer, Tobias Moser, Tim Salditt
Propagation-based phase-contrast x-ray tomography of cochlea using a compact synchrotron source
published pages: , ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23144-5
Scientific Reports 8/1 2019-07-05
2018 Thomas Mager, David Lopez de la Morena, Verena Senn, Johannes Schlotte, Anna D´Errico, Katrin Feldbauer, Christian Wrobel, Sangyong Jung, Kai Bodensiek, Vladan Rankovic, Lorcan Browne, Antoine Huet, Josephine Jüttner, Phillip G. Wood, Johannes J. Letzkus, Tobias Moser, Ernst Bamberg
High frequency neural spiking and auditory signaling by ultrafast red-shifted optogenetics
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04146-3
Nature Communications 9/1 2019-07-05
2019 Alexander Dieter, Carlos J. Duque-Afonso, Vladan Rankovic, Marcus Jeschke, Tobias Moser
Near physiological spectral selectivity of cochlear optogenetics
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09980-7
Nature Communications 10/1 2019-08-05
2018 Christian Wrobel, Alexander Dieter, Antoine Huet, Daniel Keppeler, Carlos J. Duque-Afonso, Christian Vogl, Gerhard Hoch, Marcus Jeschke, Tobias Moser
Optogenetic stimulation of cochlear neurons activates the auditory pathway and restores auditory-driven behavior in deaf adult gerbils
published pages: eaao0540, ISSN: 1946-6234, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aao0540
Science Translational Medicine 10/449 2019-05-28

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