Our lack of understanding of multi-electrode interactions severely limits current stimulation protocols. For example, current Argus II protocols simply attempt to minimize electric field interactions by maximizing phase delays across electrodes using ‘time-multiplexing’. The assumption is that single-electrode percepts act as atomic ‘building blocks’ of patterned vision. However, these building blocks often fail to assemble into more complex percepts.
The goal of this project is therefore to develop new stimulation strategies that minimize perceptual distortions.
One potential avenue is to view this as an end-to-end optimization problem, where a deep neural network (encoder) is trained to predict the electrical stimulus needed to produce a desired percept (target).
Importantly, this model would have to be trained with the phosphene model in the loop, such that the overall network would minimize a perceptual error between the predicted and target output.
This is technically challenging, because a phosphene model must be:
- simple enough to be differentiable such that it can be included in the backward pass of a deep neural network,
- complex enough to be able to explain the spatiotemporal perceptual distortions observed in real prosthesis patients, and
- amenable to an efficient implementation such that the training of the network is feasible.