December 19, 2017
PBIO seminar series: EJ Chichilnisky
John R. Adler Professor, Professor of Neurosurgery and of Ophthalmology and, by courtesy, of Electrical Engineering
host: Greg Horwitz
seminar abstract: Retinal prostheses represent an exciting development in science, engineering, and medicine – an opportunity to create devices that exploit our knowledge of neural circuitry in order to replace or even enhance visual function. However, although existing retinal prostheses demonstrate proof of principle in treating incurable blindness, they produce limited visual function. Some of the reasons for this can be understood based on the exquisitely precise and specific circuitry that mediates visual signaling in the retina. These considerations suggest that future devices may need to operate at single-cell, single-spike resolution in order to mediate naturalistic visual function. I will show large-scale multi-electrode recording and stimulation data from the primate retina indicating that, in many cases, such resolution is possible. I will also discuss cases in which it fails, and propose that we can substantially improve ariticial vision in such conditions by incorporating our knowledge of the visual system in bi-directional devices that adapt to the host neural circuity. Finally, I will discuss the potential implications for other neural interfaces of the future.