We are an interdisciplinary group interested in using brain-computer interfaces as a tool to study the neural mechanisms of visual perception in people with vision loss and to develop advanced stimulation strategies for different bionic eye technologies, with the ultimate goal of restoring useful vision to the blind.
(Feb 23, 2021) Instead of focusing on one day restoring ‘natural’ vision, we may be better off thinking about how to create ‘practical’ and ‘useful’ artificial vision now. A Smart Prosthesis could provide cues to the visually impaired, much like a computer vision system talks to a self-driving car.
(Feb 23, 2021) In this poster to be presented at the Augmented Humans (AHs) International Conference 2021, we outline our strategy on using immersive virtual reality so that sighted subjects can act as ‘virtual patients’ in real-world tasks.
(Feb 18, 2021) We are excited to announce the lab’s first paper, to be presented at the Augmented Humans (AHs) International Conference 2021, where we explore different scene simplification strategies for bionic vision.
The ‘bionic eye’—so long a dream of the future—is finally becoming a reality with retinal prostheses available in the US and Europe (Fig. 1; over 500 patients implanted). With cortical implants, optogenetic approaches, and stem cell therapy in development, a wide range of sight restoration (SR) options should be available to patients diagnosed with severe blindness within the next decade.
Despite the increasing clinical and commercial use of these devices, the perceptual experience of SR patients is surprisingly poorly understood. A common misconception in the field is that each electrode in an array can be thought of as a ‘pixel’ in an image; to generate a complex visual experience, one then simply needs to turn on the right combination of pixels. However, almost all SR technologies are likely to suffer from perceptual distortions and subsequent loss of information due to interactions between the technology and the underlying neurophysiology.
The goal of our research is therefore:
Our group combines expertise across disciplines including computer science, computational neuroscience, and psychology. Joining us requires a specific mindset—realizing that we can’t all possibly know everything, but that everyone provides a specific piece to the puzzle (see below for our current openings).
Together we want to do science that matters.
We are looking for curious and talented individuals who share our vision of helping the blind see again. If you are interested in joining us, check out our Lab Manual to familiarize yourself with our lab policies.
Please contact Michael with your CV and a brief statement of research accomplishments, interests, and career plans. Although all applicants are welcome, we are especially looking for expertise at the intersection of computational neuroscience and data science.
To be considered, you will need at least one publication in a high-quality international conference (computer science) or journal (neuroscience) and you need to have a reasonable chance of getting a fellowship to support your stay at UCSB.
If you are looking for a graduate position and you are not already at UCSB, the deadline to join us in Fall 2021 has now passed. The next deadline will happen in December 2021.
If you are a UCSB CS Master’s student looking for a project, please contact Michael to set up a time to meet.
We are looking for students interested in applying their methodological skills to research problems in bionic vision. All students should have a solid programming background and strengths in one of the following:
If you are a UCSB undergraduate interested in joining the lab, please contact Michael with your prior experience and your transcript (unofficial is fine) and we can arrange a meeting.
In general, students stay for several quarters (one quarter is not enough to get up to speed) and work for academic credit or on a volunteer basis. Students should have a GPA of ≥ 3.0 (University requirement).
Typical responsibilities include one or more of the following:
Prior research and/or programming experience is not necessary, but will drastically increase your chances of getting in (e.g., Python/R, Matlab, Unity, web-dev). For more information on expectations, responsibilities, and how your performance will be evaluated, please refer to our Lab Manual.