Cochlear implants using 16-22 wire electrodes are remarkably effective in restoring speech perception in patients with sensorineural hearing loss; however, significant differences in sound perception remain among patients. We present the first high-density micromachined cochlear electrode array that significantly increases the number of stimulating sites and better exploits the cochlea’s acoustic frequency to-place mapping. By employing a thin-film planar fabrication process, we can realize site configurations that enable multi-polar current shaping to increase pitch perception and also exhibit greater adaptability to varying patterns of nerve survival.
Similar to cochlear prostheses providing auditory cues to the central auditory system, vestibular prostheses can encode 3D head movement as current pulses applied to appropriate branches of the vestibular nerve thereby conveying head rotation cues to the brain. To sense such movements, we propose implantable rotation sensors that are a biomechanical analogue to the natural human sensor, the semicircular canal and ampullary organ. Features essential to realization of a fully implantable vestibular prosthesis such as scalability, biocompatibility and low power sensing are being addressed.
Pamela Bhatti is an Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with an emphasis on MicroElectromechanical Systems. Before entering the Ph.D. program, she researched the detection of breast cancer with ultrasound imaging at the University of Michigan Department of Radiology. Her industry experience includes embedded systems software development at Microware Corporation, Des Moines, IA, and local operating network applications development at Motorola Semiconductor in Austin, TX. Before her industrial stints, she completed an M.S.E.E. (1993) at the University of Washington in the BioRobotics Lab, and a B.S. in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her current research focuses on the development of implantable biosystems to overcome sensory loss in the auditory and vestibular systems through focused electrical stimulation and by the development of novel sensors.