Title: Toward a High-fidelity Artificial Retina
Retinal prostheses represent an exciting development in science, engineering, and medicine – an opportunity to exploit our knowledge of neural circuitry and computation to restore or even enhance vision. 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 neuroscience of early vision: exquisitely specific retinal circuitry that produces a highly asynchronous and precise neural code in the retinal signals tranmitted to the brain. Consideration of these signals suggests 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 some cases, this resolution can be achieved. I will also discuss the issues that limit resolution, and propose that we can improve ariticial vision in such conditions by incorporating our knowledge of the visual system in the development of bi-directional devices that adapt to the host neural circuity. Finally, I will briefly discuss the potential implications for novel research instruments for probing the visual pathways in ways that have not been possible before, and for the development of other neural interfaces of the future.