Secondment means a period during which a ESR is hosted by a entity other than his/her employing institution.

Secondments can take place either in public or private organisations, in the same country as the host organisation or another, including outside Europe. However, the hosting organization must be part of the enTRAIN Vision network either as a beneficiary (employer of another ESR), or a partner organization.

During the period of the secondment the ESR will undertake a specific role. The Host Entity will provide the facilities necessary for the ESR to perform the tasks given for the duration of the secondment.

The enTRAIN Vision project, funded by the European Commission, aims to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers in the crucial field of vision restoration.

ESR Name: David Berling
Secondment host institution: UMH, Elche, Spain
Secondment period: 11/01/2022 to 13/03/2022

Secondment objectives: to record the neural response to optogenetic stimulation in single cells in cell culture and brain slices.

“Being a powerful tool to manipulate neural activity, optogenetic stimulation gains more and more importance for clinical applications in neural prosthetics. Major experimental research effort is being invested in the development of spatially and temporally precise illumination devices. However, there is a lack of quantitative understanding on how light source design and neural properties affect the effective spatial resolution of an optogenetic stimulation device. The secondment gave me the chance to set up experiments in cell cultures and brain slices, where the above-described effects can be investigated in a controlled environment.”


ESR Name: Sandrine Hinrichs
Secondment host institution: Streetlab, Paris, France
Secondment period: 01/02/2022 to 28/05/2022

Secondment objectives: to use the artificial street facilities to determine the efficacy of the POLYRETINA implant in a real-life setup.

“Have you ever wondered how you would see the world as a blind person with a visual implant? In my secondment in the Paris Streetlab, I made normally sighted people go through this experience. The problem with present implants is that they haven’t been useful enough for patients to master their daily life. My laboratory therefore developed an implant that aims to improve the vision, for instance by providing a wider field of view. To test whether this wider field of view makes a real change, we have been simulating this artificial vision so we can run virtual and augmented reality experiments on sighted participants. The goal is to investigate a participant’s performance under different field of view conditions, ideally in a real-life environment. The Paris Streetlab provides exactly that. You can think of a streetlab as a fully customisable theater room that you can turn into an artificial street while being in control of everything. In this artificial street, participants were asked to start at their home location and to retrieve money from the ATM, to post a letter and to go back home as fast as possible. Participants saw the street through the lens of a blind person with the implant, where half of them were exposed to a field of view of 20° and the other half to 45°. Preliminary results indicate a difference in the performance, the time it took them to complete the tasks as well as the time they spent in dangerous locations.”


ESR Name: Fabrizio Grani
Secondment host institution: EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
Secondment period: 01/11/2021 to 31/01/2022

Secondment objectives: to optimize the design of the resonator coil of a wireless visual prosthesis.

The future of cortical visual prosthesis are wireless implants. Power transmission and safety absorption rate are of fundamental importance when designing wireless systems. During this secondment I had the opportunity to face the challenges of wireless implants, from the design of a coil to its microfabrication in clean-room.”


ESR Name: Luca Baroni
Secondment host institution: Femtonics, Budapest
Secondment period: 05/09/22 to 07/10/22

Secondment objectives: gain experience in 2P microscopy, specifically for calcium imaging data collections, gain deeper comprehension of the challenging and possibilities of experimental settings and collect dataset of responses to visual stimulation for future analyses.

During my secondment at Femtonics I took the role of an experimental neuroscientist for a 5 weeks. Those workdays were quite different than my typical workdays as computational neuroscientist. I learned how to operate a 2P microscope and to perform in-vivo calcium imaging on Mice V1. I developed a stimulation protocol and collected and neural responses under visual stimulation. During the same period Marlene Pfeffer (an ESR from Benfenanti lab) was as well doing the secondment at Femtonics and we had a joint training, offered by Tamas Tompa, an application specialist of Femtonics.”


ESR Name: Luca Baroni
Secondment host institution: Sinz Lab, Goettingen University
Secondment period: 15/03/22 to 04/06/22

Secondment objectives: develop deeper knowledge of DNN application to vision neuroscience, get in touch with latest development of encoding and decoding architectures of visual information in neural responses and develop DNN based model to identify invariance manifold of visual sensory neurons.

The secondment at Sinz Lab was a great opportunity to further deepen my knowledge in DNN applications in vision neuroscience. Collaborating with Fabian Sinz and Mohammad Bashiri I developed a CPPN based method to identify and parameterize the set of stimuli that maximally excite neurons in V1. This method will allow us to better understand how visual information is encoded in V1 activity and will be informative for the development of future cortical stimulation protocols.”