Efficient characterization of electrically evoked responses for neural interfaces

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Nishal Shah, Sasidhar Madugula, Pawel Hottowy, Alexander Sher, Alan Litke, Liam Paninski, E.J. Chichilnisky


Future neural interfaces will read and write population neural activity with high spatial and temporal resolution, for diverse applications. For example, an artificial retina may restore vision to the blind by electrically stimulating retinal ganglion cells. Such devices must tune their function, based on stimulating and recording, to match the function of the circuit. However, existing methods for characterizing the neural interface scale poorly with the number of electrodes, limiting their practical applicability. This work tests the idea that using prior information from previous experiments and closed-loop measurements may greatly increase the efficiency of the neural interface. Large-scale, high-density electrical recording and stimulation in primate retina were used as a lab prototype for an artificial retina. Three key calibration steps were optimized: spike sorting in the presence of stimulation artifacts, response modeling, and adaptive stimulation. For spike sorting, exploiting the similarity of electrical artifact across electrodes and experiments substantially reduced the number of required measurements. For response modeling, a joint model that captures the inverse relationship between recorded spike amplitude and electrical stimulation threshold from previously recorded retinas resulted in greater consistency and efficiency. For adaptive stimulation, choosing which electrodes to stimulate based on probability estimates from previous measurements improved efficiency. Similar improvements resulted from using either non-adaptive stimulation with a joint model across cells, or adaptive stimulation with an independent model for each cell. Finally, image reconstruction revealed that these improvements may translate to improved performance of an artificial retina.