Seminars and events

As part of the Bionics Institute 2014 Seminar Series, Professor Peter Seligman, a key member of the team that developed the
Melbourne/Cochlear multichannel cochlear implant and Bionics Institute biomedical engineer and mentor, gave a talk entitled
 "The path to a clinical cochlear implant".

To view the video and get an insight into the history of this life-changing device click here.


Seminars are held each week at the Bionics Institute and are open to the public. Registration is not required.

The seminars are held at the Institute, unless stated otherwise:

4-5pm each Friday

Bionics Institute

Level 1, 384-388 Albert Street

East Melbourne

1/12/2017 4:00 PMAdditive Manufacturing at RMIT for medicine: What's new since last time?Dr Kate Fox, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering, RMIT University
Bio:  Kate is a senior lecturer at RMIT in the School of Engineering. A biomedical engineer, she has been involved in two of the biggest medical bionics projects in Australia, the Bionic Eye and the Stentrode device, a device capable of directly interfacing with the brain. At present she is working in additive manufacturing for orthopedic implant applications. Prior to joining academia she worked as a patent attorney.
24/11/2017 4:00 PMImproving the spatial resolution of retinal prostheses using novel electrical field shaping techniquesTom Spencer, PhD student, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Retinal prostheses are implantable devices that provide artificial visual input to patients with severe retinal degeneration. Electrical stimulation of residual retinal circuitry using implanted electrodes elicits the perception of localised flashes of light, termed phosphenes. These phosphenes can be used to convey information to patients about their surroundings. Constraints such as the minimum electrode size to maintain safe charge density limits for electrical stimulation, and surgical complications with increased implant dimensions, limit the number of electrodes that can be safely implanted in to the eye. Using conventional stimulation techniques, only one phosphene can be produced per electrode. These phosphenes are also typically very large, making it difficult for patients to discriminate between them. While present-day devices have been shown to aid patients in simple day-to-day tasks, more complex visual tasks such as independent navigation, facial recognition, or reading are still not possible. To convey more complex visual information to patients, it is necessary to increase the number of discriminable percepts that can be elicited. As part of my PhD, I have investigated the use of novel electrical field shaping techniques such as two-dimensional current steering, to increase the number of elicitable phosphenes without adding electrodes, and current focusing, to reduce the spread of current in the retina and make phosphenes smaller. These findings were also validated in a cat model of retinal degeneration.
Bio: Tom Spencer is a PhD student at the Bionics Institute enrolled through the University of Melbourne. Tom received a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Western Australia in 2013. His honours project investigated the therapeutic potential of extracochlear electrical stimulation in alleviating tinnitus. In 2014, Tom moved to Melbourne to begin a PhD under the supervision of Dr Mohit Shivdasani and A/Prof James Fallon. His current research focuses on investigating novel stimulation strategies in retinal implants with the aim of increasing spatial resolution for implanted patients.
20/10/2017 4:00 PMDifferentiation of ChR-2-positive human induced pluripotent stem cells towards sensory neural lineageDr Tomoko Hyakumura, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible due to the lack of spontaneous regeneration of cochlear hair cells or spiral ganglion neurons. The effectiveness of cochlear implants can be limited in patients with severe SGN degeneration. Stem cell therapy for SGN replacement offers potential for hearing restoration in patients with profound deafness. Furthermore, stem cell therapy could be combined with optogenetics by genetically modifying stem cells to express channelrhodopsins-2 (ChR-2) to allow activation of stem cell-derived auditory neurons with light, with high spatial resolution. To date, there have been no studies investigating optogenetic use in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived auditory neurons. The aim of this preliminary study was to describe and compare three differentiation methods for their ability to generate sensory neurons from hiPSCs, which have been electroporated to express the ChR2 fusion protein with EYFP. Examination using light microscopy, immunochemistry and fluorescence microscopy indicated that hiPSC-derived ChR-2 cells successfully differentiated towards sensory neural lineage, as shown by presence of sensory and neural markers. Furthermore, the expression of ChR-2 was sustained following differentiation, as demonstrated by presence of GFP. These findings serve as a foundation for further investigations relating to auditory replacement studies combining neural activation by optical stimulation.
Bio: Tomoko graduated from Monash University with an Honours Degree in Biochemistry. Her Honours project investigated the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells towards a visceral endoderm-like lineage. After graduating, she was recruited to work as a research assistant in Professor Seong-Seng Tan’s laboratory at the Howard Florey Institute, investigating mouse cortical development using transgenic and conditional knockout mice. In 2012, Tomoko was awarded an Australian postgraduate award and Australian Stem Cell Centre postgraduate Scholarship to complete her PhD under the supervision of Dr Bryony Nayagam. She recently completed her PhD, and continues to work with her supervior Dr Bryony Nayagam.
13/10/2017 4:00 PMMovement Disorders Research at the Bionics InstituteDr Thushara Perera, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor can be treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) where controlled electrical pulses are delivered to targeted brain structures using an implanted stimulator. Stereotactic neurosurgery and careful image-guided planning ensures precise placement of DBS electrodes, yet intraoperative brain shift due to loss of intracranial pressure and cerebellar fluid leakage can impact on accuracy and consequently patient outcomes. Furthermore, stimulator settings (current/voltage, pulse duration, frequency) must be optimised to yield the best therapeutic outcomes. Subjective symptom monitoring techniques are adequate for routine patient care, yet lack sensitivity and are prone to bias when applied as part of clinical trials.  At the Bionics Institute, we are investigating methods to improve electrode localisation and developing objective instruments to measure symptoms such as tremor, rigidity and balance.
Bio: Dr Thushara Perera has a Bachelor in Electronic Engineering (Hons) and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia), where he won the Tad Szental Prize for best graduating engineer and the Hooper Memorial Prize for best final-year project. Dr Perera completed his PhD in neuroscience and joined the Bionics Institute as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2012. Here, he worked as part of the Bionic Vision team to successfully trial Australia’s first bionic eye. At present, his research focusses on cutting-edge therapies for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Dr Perera’s role in innovation was recognised in 2016 with a prestigious veski Victoria Fellowship.
22/09/2017 4:00 PMVisual cortex responses to multichannel stimulation in retinal degeneration: towards current focusing and steeringDr Mohit Shivdasani, Senior Research Fellow, Bionics Institute & Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Medical Bionics, University of Melbourne
Abstract: Contemporary retinal prostheses enable patients to detect light and motion but mostly fail to provide enough resolution for object recognition and reading. While multichannel stimulation holds promise, its efficacy has only been demonstrated in normal retinae. Our team has been evaluating visual cortex responses to multichannel stimulation of long term degenerate retinae in vivo, to better understand how to implement current focusing and current steering techniques for improved resolution. This talk will cover the most recent results obtained by two PhD students from the team, one of whom has just graduated.
Bio:  Dr Shivdasani arrived from India in 2003 to pursue a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at La Trobe University. He subsequently undertook a PhD in Auditory Neuroscience which he completed in 2009, following which he joined the Bionics Institute to apply similar experimental techniques to other systems, in particular the visual system. Since 2009, Dr Shivdasani has been part of a multi-disciplinary team whose research is focused on developing a bionic eye, which led to a clinical trial of a prototype device between 2012-2014. Since then, his research efforts have been concentrated in the areas of improved stimulation strategies to resolve issues that have been identified through the trial, including those of low spatial resolution and perceptual fading.
8/09/2017 4:00 PMNanoscale BioPhotonics: using nanomaterials and light to understand the inner workings of the bodyAssociate Professor Brant Gibson, Deputy Director and RMIT Node Leader, ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics. 
Abstract:  Light-based imaging and sensing tools can assist with our understanding of the complex chemical and molecular processes taking place in and around cells in the living body. Fluorescent nanodiamonds (NDs) are an attractive nanoscale-tool that have a range of unique properties which make them highly desirable for bioimaging and biosensing applications.  Their fluorescence is produced via optical excitation of atomic defects, such as the negatively charged nitrogen vacancy centre, within the diamond crystal lattice.   Possessing long-wavelength emission, high brightness, no photobleaching, no photoblinking, single photon emission at room temperature, nanometer size, biocompatibility, and an exceptional resistance to chemical degradation make NDs almost the ideal fluorescent bioimaging nanoprobe.  I will discuss these exciting properties in detail and also give some examples of their use as fluorescent probes for biophotonic applications.   In addition, I will also discuss some recent research highlights from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (
Biography:  A/Prof. Gibson was awarded his PhD from La Trobe University in 2004. From 2005-09, he was a Photonics Development Engineer at Quantum Communications Victoria (QCV) where he and colleagues designed and developed Australia’s first commercial quantum security product (QCV SPS 1.01).  In 2011 he was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship on Hybrid Diamond Materials for Next Generation Sensing, Biodiagnostic and Quantum Devices.  Currently, A/Prof. Gibson is a Deputy Director and RMIT Node Leader of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.  And he has wide-ranging research interests in the areas of fluorescent nanoprobes, biophotonics, hybrid integration and confocal microscopy
7/09/2017 12:00 PMHidden Hearing Loss—Nightclubs, Noise and NeuronsProfessor David McAlpine, ARC Laureate Fellow, and Professor of Hearing, Language and the Brain at Macquarie University’s Australian Hearing Hub
Abstract:  Increasing evidence indicates that a single dose of ‘night-club level’ noise damages auditory nerve fibres in the absence of damage to sensory hair cells. This ‘hidden hearing loss’ (HHL)—undetected by conventional tests such as audiometry—is suggested to account for undiagnosed difficulties processing speech in background noise, as well as pathologies such as tinnitus. Here, in animal models and human listeners, I will demonstrate that a homeostatic increase in central gain following nerve damage elicits a cascade of events that can generate tinnitus, render speech sounds less easy to distinguish in background noise, and blur the distinction between different listening environments. Turning down the gain might be one way of treating the complaint ‘‘I hear you but I can’t understand what you’re saying’.
Bio:  David McAlpine is ARC Laureate Fellow, and Professor of Hearing, Language and the Brain at Macquarie University’s Australian Hearing Hub. Graduating with a BSc in Phyisology from the University of Western Australia (1989), he read for his D.Phil at the University of Oxford, before moving to the Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research, Nottingham. Following a short period as a lecturer at Sheffield University, he moved to University College London in 1999, as Lecturer, then Reader and, in 2005, Professor of Auditory Neuroscience. In 2006 he was appointed Director of the UCL Ear Institute, where he oversaw the development of an international leading programme of research into hearing and deafness. In October 2015, he took up the exciting challenge of bringing Macquarie’s Australian Hearing Hub to global prominence. His research interests include understanding how we listen in noisy environments, brain mechanisms of spatial hearing, and therapies for hearing problems.
18/08/2017 4:00 PMMore publications, better publications:  tips, tricks, and trapsProfessor Hugh McDermott, Leader in Neurobionics Research, Bionics Institute and Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne
Abstract:  You’ve completed the study, you’ve drafted the manuscript, you’ve submitted it to your chosen journal. Now who makes the decision whether to publish it? In most cases, it’s an Associate Editor who decides. During the processing of the manuscript, expert commentary is usually obtained from reviewers, and opinions may be contributed by members of an editorial board. However, you – as author – need to interact primarily with the Associate Editor in order to get your work published. In this seminar, I will present and discuss ways of smoothing this process to maximise the probability of having your manuscript accepted by a worthy journal and to increase the quality of the published material.
Bio:  I have served as Associate Editor for several international journals and have processed approximately 50 submissions in that capacity. I have also reviewed manuscripts for about 30 different journals. These experiences have substantially helped with my own publications. My background is in electronic engineering and my PhD thesis described the design and implementation of an advanced cochlear implant. Over almost 36 years my research has expanded into fields including acoustic hearing aids, visual prostheses, and neuromodulation devices. I am an elected Fellow of the IEEE, the Acoustical Society of America, and the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences.
11/08/2017 4:00 PMFlexible inputs: tracking the plasticity of spinal cord circuits after spinal cord injury and strokeDr Michelle Rank, Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Cell Biology and Anatomy, RMIT University
Abstract: It is commonly held that little recovery occurs after injury in the adult mammalian central nervous system. However, following incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) some spontaneous recovery of function occurs. We currently have only limited understanding of the functional plasticity in spinal cord networks that underlies spontaneous recovery. Using whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology in an adult mouse hemisection model of SCI changes to properties of spinal interneurons are characterised during acute (4 wks) and chronic (10 wks) stages of recovery. A distinct progression of changes in intrinsic properties and synaptic architecture occur over time after SCI. To understand how disruption to upstream motor and sensory inputs affects spontaneous recovery in the same population of spinal cord interneurons, neuronal properties are tracked at early (7 days) and late stages (28d) after a cerebral ischemic stroke. These analyses highlight how the proximity of changed inputs can dramatically alter the trajectory of plasticity in spinal cord circuits during recovery.

Bio:  Dr Michelle Rank is an early career neurophysiology researcher at RMIT University. Michelle received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Alberta (Canada) in June 2011 and then undertook postdoctoral training at the University of Newcastle (NSW). Since joining RMIT in Dec 2015, Michelle has established a specialised whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology laboratory. Her central research interest is the plasticity of the nervous system, especially spinal cord neural networks, in response to injury and the mechanisms underlying functional recovery.
4/08/2017 4:00 PMReducing trauma with slim Deep Brain Stimulation electrodesDr Joel Villalobos, Research Fellow, Bionics Institute
Abstract:  The efficacy of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) can be limited by factors including poor selectivity of stimulation, targeting error, and complications related to implant reliability and stability. At the BI, we aim to improve clinical outcomes by miniaturizing the implantable electrode array, improving stimulation selectivity with finer electrode spacing, and assisting targeting by incorporating microelectrodes into the device. Evaluating our slim electrode leads (diameter = 0.65 mm) next to the standard DBS leads (1.3 mm) in acute implantation experiments, confirmed that the resulting trauma was significantly reduced. Histological analysis through i) expert scoring of the trauma, ii) measurement of the extent of haemorrhage and iii) measurement of the proportion of apoptotic cells surrounding the implant (TUNEL staining), revealed significantly lower trauma measures for the slim electrodes (Mann-Whitney, P < 0.002). We have found that using smaller and shorter ring electrodes for DBS, desired for improved targeting, results in doubling of the electrode impedance (2.03±0.55 kΩ at 1 kHz vs. 1.18±0.27 kΩ) for a five-fold reduction in surface area. Chronic safety evaluation of the implants is ongoing in sheep.
Bio:  Joel Villalobos is a Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute (Melbourne, Australia). He completed a PhD at The University of Melbourne on the preclinical evaluation of a retinal prosthesis (Bionic Eye), enabling the translation into a first-in-human trial. His background studies in Electronic Systems Engineering (Cum Laude, Tec de Monterrey) led him initially into instrumentation and automation development in his native México. There he worked as a senior design engineer for clients in the building automation and automotive industries. These days, Joel’s efforts at the Bionics Institute concentrate on improving technologies for treating degenerative blindness (retinitis pigmentosa) and Parkinson’s disease.
28/07/2017 4:00 PMSelf-assemble lipid nanoparticles for cancer therapeutics and in vivo imaging Dr Nhiem Tran, Research Fellow, School of Science, RMIT University
Abstract:  Self-assembled lyotropic liquid crystalline lipid nanoparticles have shown potential as carriers for both therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Their complex nanostructures allow for controlled release of various drugs, proteins, peptides of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic nature. Additionally, multiple imaging modalities can be encapsulated within the nanostructure of the particles for in vivo contrast enhancement and nanoparticle tracking. Since the internal structure (or phase) of the nanoparticles directly influences the release rate of the drug, it is important to understand phase behaviour of these nanoparticles in order to further tailor their nanostructures to suit specific applications. A special case, in which the nanoparticles are used to treat aggressive ovarian cancer, will be discussed.
Bio:  Dr Nhiem Tran is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow at School of Science, RMIT University. He received a PhD in Physics from Brown University (USA) in 2012. He then worked at Department of Orthopaedics, Rhode Island Hospital (USA) before moving to Melbourne to join CSIRO and Australian Synchrotron in 2013. The goal of his research is to use advanced technologies to create novel materials that can solve healthcare problems. The materials of interest include self-assembled lipids for drug delivery and in vivo imaging, and polymer-metal oxide hybrid coatings for anti-biofilm and tissue regenerating medical implants.
21/07/2017 4:00 PMCan we fix broken plumbing with better wiring? Dr Gregory Moore, Head of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Gastroenterology & Hepatology Unit, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, Monash University
Bio: Gregory Moore is Head of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at Monash Medical Centre and a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, Department of Medicine, Monash University. He graduated with MBBS (Hons) from Monash University and completed Gastroenterology training at Monash Medical Centre and St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. He completed a basic science PhD in immunology at the University of Melbourne, and returned to found the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Unit at Monash Medical Centre in 2007 where he oversees a multi-disciplinary IBD clinic providing tertiary referral and paediatric transition services to over 1500 patients. He has been actively involved in over 50 multinational drug trials in IBD, is the current Chair of the Australian IBD Association, and a Board member of Crohn’s and Colitis Australia and on the steering committee of the National IBD Quality of Care Programme. Greg conducts investigator-initiated research in amniotic stem cells in both murine models of IBD and as a phase 1 study in cirrhosis, as well as human assessment of novel cytokines and the role of body composition in disease outcomes and pharmacotherapies. He has supervised six PhD students, BMedSci students, and is an active undergraduate and post-graduate teacher.
Abstract: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the collective name for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These are common, chronic, immune mediated conditions affecting the intestines with associated alterations in the intestinal microbiota. Despite multiple genetic polymorphic associations, the exact cause of these conditions is unknown. Progressive damage of the intestines leads to profound fatigue, pain, and diarrhoea, and often results in the need for multiple surgical resections. Many patients experience significant impairment in their quality of life and ability to engage in activities of daily living. The mainstays of therapy are immunosuppressive therapies ranging from conventional corticosteroids, anti-metabolite immunomodulating agents through to biologic targeted monoclonal antibodies. There is an unmet need in IBD for both better disease monitoring and therapy. The role of the vagus nerve in the motor and sensory function of the gut has been known and explored for decades but its critical role in the immune function of the intestine has only recently begun to be described. The potential for bionics to help meet this unmet need warrants further exploration.
30/06/2017 4:00 PMObjectively programming cochlear implantsProfessor Colette McKay, Leader in Translational Hearing, Bionics Institute

Abstract:  Infants as young as a few months old are receiving cochlear implants, which need to be programmed accurately so that the infant has access to a broad dynamic range of sounds – especially important for oral language acquisition.  All implant manufacturers include the facility to record ECAP potentials – the whole nerve response of the auditory nerve to electrical stimulus pulses.  Unfortunately this potential is not very predictive of the behavioural responses to high-rate pulse trains – the stimulus used to programme an implant.  In this seminar I will show how additional parameters of the ECAP potentials can be used to improve the accuracy of this objective programming using ECAPS.

Bio:  Professor McKay is an international leader in the field of psychophysics with electrical stimulation, and her multidisciplinary research combines psychophysics, electrophysiology, imaging, speech perception, speech processing and mathematical modelling with the aim of improving outcomes of auditory implants.  She contributed significantly to the design and signal processing strategies used in the family of cochlear implants manufactured by Cochlear Ltd.  She graduated and received her PhD from the University of Melbourne in the fields of mathematics and physics.  From 1991-2004, she was Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, and then Principal Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne Department of Otolaryngology.  From 2005 to 2013 she held chair and research group leadership positions at Aston University, Birmingham, and Manchester University in the UK.  Since 2013 she has led the Translational Hearing Research group at the Bionics Institute.

23/06/2017 4:00 PMCell-based assays using microfluidic technologies Dr. Khashayar Khoshmanesh, Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University
Abstract:  There is a growing interest in utilising microfluidic platforms for cell-based assays. Low cell numbers, small reagent volumes, fast mass transfer kinetics, rapid reaction times, and laminar characteristics of flow in micro-fabricated environments provide unique abilities to monitor the response of cells under well-controlled environmental conditions.
Importantly, the structure and functioning of microfluidic devices can be customised to meet the specific requirements of each project, providing unique opportunities for breakthrough discoveries in the field of cell biology. The versatility of microfluidic systems has been proven in a variety of cell-based assays, including monitoring the morphology, proliferation and metabolism of cells, measuring the trafficking of molecules in and out of cells, various cytotoxicity assays, and exploring cell signalling dynamics.
In my presentation, I will briefly introduce a variety of cell-based microfluidic systems, which have been developed in my research group at RMIT over the past few years. In particular, I will discuss the unique capabilities of dielectrophoresis for sorting, trapping, physical/chemical stimulation, and imaging of cells using various microscopic techniques.
Bio:  Dr. Khashayar Khoshmanesh received his PhD in Biomechanical Engineering from Deakin University, Australia in 2010. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University’s School of Engineering. Khashayar leads a group of PhD students, working on microfluidic based lab-on-a-chip devices, and miniaturised soft actuators made of liquid metal. He is the named author of 75 journal papers, and the recipient of several awards, fellowships and ARC discovery grants.
16/06/2017 4:00 PMReducing spread of neural activation using focused multipolar retinal electrical stimulationTom Spencer, PhD Student, The Bionics Institute
Abstract:  The spatial resolution provided by even the most advanced retinal prostheses is severely limiting for recipients. A major factor is presumed to be broad spread of activation within the retina in response to monopolar (MP) electrical stimulation. This study hypothesized that compared with MP stimulation of a single retinal electrode, focused multipolar (FMP) stimulation of all electrodes simultaneously with weighted positive and negative charges would result in a narrow electric field and reduced spread of neural activation.
Bio:  Tom Spencer is a PhD student at the Bionics Institute enrolled through the University of Melbourne. Tom received a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Western Australia in 2013. His honours project investigated the therapeutic potential of extracochlear electrical stimulation in alleviating tinnitus. In 2014, Tom moved to Melbourne to begin a PhD under the supervision of Dr Mohit Shivdasani and A/Prof James Fallon. His current research focuses on investigating novel stimulation strategies in retinal implants with the aim of increasing spatial resolution for implanted patients.
2/06/2017 4:00 PMGold Nanoparticles for Enhanced Infrared Neural StimulationProfessor Paul Stoddart, Director, ARC Training Centre in Biodevices, Swinburne University of Technology
Abstract: Emerging techniques for the optical stimulation of nerves are having a major impact in neuroscience, providing new ways to study the nervous system and influence its function. While techniques based on optogenetics and photoactive molecules require the introduction of exogenous light responsive materials, it is known that neurons can also be stimulated directly by the transient heating associated with the absorption of infrared light by water. However, all of these techniques are limited by the penetration depth of the visible or infrared wavelengths in tissue. Gold nanoparticles with a plasmon absorption peak in the near-infrared transmission window of tissue have been used to improve the efficiency of infrared neural stimulation. Gold nanorods were stabilized by the addition of a polyelectrolyte layer or a silica shell. After incubation with the coated particles, NG108-15 neuronal cells showed good preservation of proliferation and cell membrane integrity. When spiral ganglion neurons were cultured with the nanorods and exposed to 780 nm light, patch clamp experiments exhibited action potentials. These results demonstrate that nanorod absorbers can enhance the process of infrared neural stimulation, suggesting potential future applications in neural prostheses.
Bio:  Paul Stoddart graduated with BSc (Honours) in physics and PhD in laser spectroscopy from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. After working on industry-focused surface science and microanalysis problems in a national lab for three years, he joined Swinburne University of Technology in 2001. He is currently the Director of Swinburne’s Australian Research Council Training Centre in Biodevices, which received the Vice-Chancellor’s Engagement Award in 2014. As a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Swinburne, his research interests include applied optics, biophotonics and medical devices, with a particular focus in the areas of optical nerve stimulation, optical fibre sensors and Raman spectroscopy.
26/05/2017 4:00 PMRamblings of a retirement recruit.Professor Peter Seligman, D.Eng
Abstract:  What if you had a job where no-one told you what they wanted you to do. Or perhaps only very occasionally, with no deadlines or specifics.
What would you do?
In some companies this is a tactic for getting rid of unwanted employees without sacking them.
It hasn’t worked on me!
I’ve been in that position for seven and a half years - it’s interesting and fun.
Territory I’ve rambled through
Analysing weird and wonderful voltage waveforms from electrodes stimulated by biphasic current pulses
Electrically modelling electrodes to match actual observed waveforms
Analysing residual DC produced by perfectly charge balanced pulses
Using voltage instead of current for electrical stimulation
More efficient means of electrical stimulation & patent
Analysis of heating effects in bionic eye stimulation
Radio frequency inductive power links and their optimisation
Co-authoring a book chapter on neural prostheses
Analysing failure modes of patient transmit coils of a well-known Cochlear Implant manufacturer
An implantable microphone which rejects body noise & patent
Topologies and architecture of a dual CI based bionic eye.
Vibration aid for eye electrode insertion
Getting up to toddler speed with CRISPR
I’ll also talk about some work that I think the Institute should do – without the constraints of a particular application.
Bio:  Peter was a key member of the team that developed the Melbourne/Cochlear multiple-channel cochlear implant. He worked in the field for 30 years and was particularly responsible for the development and improvement of speech processors.  He designed the first portable Speech Processor for the University of Melbourne device. He joined Cochlear Ltd (Nucleus) in 1983 and was instrumental in speech processor miniaturisation and improvement, including the development of custom microchips to implement new speech processing strategies. He holds 21 patents. His special interest was the development of smaller behind-the-ear speech processors and totally implanted cochlear implants.
Since 2009 he has worked one day a week with the Bionics Institute as a biomedical engineer and mentor.
19/05/2017 4:00 PMNeurons in a dish: when to study function?Dr Karina Needham, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Surgery (Otolaryngology) University of Melbourne
Abstract: Neurons grown in culture provide a useful tool in research, and have been a valuable method with which to examine the survival, morphology and function of the auditory system. For example, primary cultures of primary auditory neurons have provided critical insights into the role of neurotrophins in cell survival and morphology. Functional studies have also used in vitro models to study neuronal physiology and the ion channels that dictate these patterns of activity.  In this study we were interested to examine if the period of time spent in culture might itself be an important influence on neuronal physiology. Our aim was to identify the time point in vitro that best reflects the native physiological properties of auditory neurons.
Bio: Karina received her PhD from the University of Melbourne (Otolaryngology) in 2006, followed by postdoctoral positions at the Bionics Institute, La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne (Anatomy & Neuroscience). Karina is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne in the Department of Surgery (Otolaryngology), where she is head of the Hearing Neurosciences lab. Her research is focused on how ion channels influence neuronal function, uncovering the mechanisms of neuronal trauma in hearing loss, and identifying new targets for its treatment.
12/05/2017 4:00 PMRate Modulation and Speech Perception with Cochlear ImplantsTim Brochier, PhD Student, Bionics Institute
Abstract:  Individual performance varies widely among cochlear implant users, with some achieving very good speech recognition results, and others receiving little benefit from their implant. Cochlear implant users rely heavily upon temporal information in the speech signal, and sensitivity to temporal modulations can explain some of the variance in outcomes. The broad aim of our study is to improve speech outcomes for cochlear implant users through better transmission of temporal speech information.
We are currently developing a speech processing strategy that utilizes simultaneous amplitude modulation (AM) and rate modulation (RM) to encode temporal envelopes. The strategy has been informed by two psychophysical studies. The first study investigated the effect of stimulation rate on speech perception, finding a small advantage for low stimulation rates, particularly for noisy conditions and low levels. The second study measured the perception of RM by cochlear implant users, and how that perception changes with presentation level and modulation frequency. It was found that RM can be used to encode temporal envelopes, and that both RM and AM detection thresholds deteriorate with lowering levels and rising modulation frequencies. In the seminar, we will discuss the results of these studies and how they have influenced the development of a new speech processing strategy, to be tested this year.  

Bio:  Tim Brochier is a PhD student at the Bionics Institute, enrolled through the University of Melbourne and supervised by Professor Colette McKay and Professor Hugh McDermott. His research is focused on developing improved signal processing strategies for cochlear implants. He completed his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California.
5/05/2017 4:00 PMPathways to Manufacture Implantable Medical DevicesMr Graeme Rathbone
Abstract:  The Bionics Institute has a 35 year history of high-level research and has developed a commercial aspect via contract research. More recently the BI embarked on the design and development of implantable (Class III) medical devices and the associated manufacturing pathways.
In the medical devices world there has been substantial growth in the field referred to as "Neuromodulation". This is an expensive business; apart from having relevant research skills, proof of concept and pre-clinical trials capability, interested groups need to understand the regulatory compliance ecosystem including quality management systems, relevant international standards together with the complexities of manufacturing devices suitable for human implantation.  This creates an opportunity for the Bionics Institute to prove an advisory service to groups who may be interested in commercializing their research in this field but may not have either the resources or experience to do so.
This seminar, "Pathways to Manufacture Implantable Medical Devices" will discuss how this can be achieved from our position in Australia.

Bio:  Graeme has worked in the private, public and academic sectors. He has lectured in biomedical engineering, control systems, design and development; initially at RMIT then LaTrobe University and (p/t) at the University of Melbourne. He held various academic management positions. He has undertaken neuro-stimulation research at the Bionics Institute over the last 10 years including supervision of Masters and PhD students. Since retiring from LaTrobe University four years ago he has worked part-time for the Bionics Institute as well as Blamey-Saunders Hearing, managing the development of new projects. Most recently for the Bionics Institute's minimally invasive implantable epilepsy monitor.
28/04/2017 4:00 PMInternal SeminarProfessor Colette McKay
21/04/2017 4:00 PMSingle-trial event-related potential extraction through one-unit ICA-with-referenceDr Wee-Lih Lee
Abstract:  In recent years, ICA has been one of the more popular methods for extracting event-related potential (ERP) at the single-trial level. It is a blind source separation technique that allows the extraction of an ERP without making strong assumptions on the temporal and spatial characteristics of an ERP. However, the problem with traditional ICA is that the extraction is not direct and is time-consuming due to the need for manual source selection. Thus, the application of a one-unit ICA-with-Reference (ICA-R), a constrained ICA method, is proposed. In cases where the time-region of the desired ERP is known a priori, this time information is utilized to generate a reference signal, which is then used for guiding the one-unit ICA-R to extract the source signal of the desired ERP directly. Our results showed that, as compared to traditional ICA, ICA-R is a more effective method for analysing ERP because it avoids manual source selection and requires less computation thus resulting in faster ERP extraction. Since the method is automated, it reduces the risks of any subjective bias in the ERP analysis.

Bio:  Dr Wee-Lih Lee received his Bachelor and PhD degrees (Electrical and Computer Engineering) from Curtin University in 2009 and 2014 respectively. Currently, he is a research engineer in Bionics Institute where he is developing software for closed-loop DBS system. His research interests include signal processing, pattern recognition and their application on biomedical signals.
14/04/2017 12:00 AMGood Friday
7/04/2017 4:00 PMEvaluation of focused multipolar stimulation for cochlear implants: a preclinical safety studyProfessor Rob Shepherd
Abstract: Cochlear Implants (CIs) have a limited number of independent stimulation channels due to the highly conductive nature of the fluid-filled cochlea. Attempts to develop highly focused stimulation to improve speech perception in CI users includes the use of simultaneous stimulation via multiple current sources.  Focused multipolar (FMP) stimulation is an example of this approach and has been shown to reduce interaction between stimulating channels.  However, compared with conventional biphasic current pulses generated from a single current source, FMP is a complex stimulus that includes extended periods of stimulation before charge recovery is achieved, raising questions on whether chronic stimulation with this strategy is safe. The present study evaluated the long-term safety of intracochlear stimulation using FMP in a preclinical animal model of profound deafness.  Animals were bilaterally implanted with scala tympani electrode arrays two months after deafening, and received continuous unilateral FMP stimulation at levels that evoked a behavioural response for periods of up to 182 days. Electrode impedance, electrically-evoked compound action potentials (ECAPs) and auditory brainstem responses (EABRs) were monitored periodically over the course of the stimulation program from both the stimulated and contralateral control cochleae.  On completion of the stimulation program cochleae were examined histologically and the electrode arrays were evaluated for evidence of platinum (Pt) corrosion.  There was no significant difference in electrode impedance between control and chronically stimulated electrodes following long-term FMP stimulation.  Moreover, there was no significant difference between ECAP and EABR thresholds evoked from control or stimulated cochleae at either the onset of stimulation or at completion of the stimulation program. Chronic FMP stimulation had no effect on spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) survival when compared with unstimulated control cochleae. Long-term implantation typically evoked a mild foreign body reaction proximal to the electrode array; however stimulated cochleae exhibited a small but statistically significant increase in the tissue response. Finally, there was no evidence of Pt corrosion following long-term FMP stimulation; stimulated electrodes exhibited the same surface features as the unstimulated control electrodes.  In summary, chronic intracochlear FMP stimulation at levels used in the present study did not adversely affect electrically-evoked neural thresholds or SGN survival but evoked a small, benign increase in inflammatory response compared to control ears. Moreover chronic FMP stimulation does not affect the surface of Pt electrodes at suprathreshold stimulus levels. These findings support the safe clinical application of an FMP stimulation strategy.
Bio:  Professor Rob Shepherd is the Director of The Bionics Institute and Head of the Medical Bionics Department at the University of Melbourne. In the 1980’s he led the preclinical team that demonstrated the safety and efficacy of Cochlear's bionic ear in both adults and children, and more recently his team developed a prototype bionic eye as part of an Australia-wide collaboration – Bionic Vision Australia – to develop a commercial bionic eye. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, given more than 100 invited international keynote conference presentations, received $95M of research funding as a chief investigator. Prof Shepherd has overseen the expansion of the Bionic Ear Institute into the Bionics Institute, broadening its research portfolio to include retinal prostheses, neurobionics - a platform technology for diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and the stimulation of visceral nerves, and introducing a contract research organisation specialising in in vitro and in vivo R&D associated with neural prostheses and drug delivery technologies. In 2014 he was awarded the Garnett Passe Medal at the Royal Society of Medicine, London for his contributions to Otolaryngology and in 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and a member of “Knowledge Nation 100” of Australia’s top innovators.
31/03/2017 4:00 PMGene therapy for cochlear sensory cell protection and regenerationDr Rachael Richardson
Abstract: Hearing loss is often ignored until there is significant loss of cochlear hair cells and spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). Our research indicates that neurotrophic factor gene therapy is effective for long-term preservation of SGNs. Gene therapy could be considered for conditions were a cochlear implant will still be required but little is known about the interaction between gene therapy and cochlear implantation and associated electrical stimulation.   The research will address two main aims: (i) To determine if electrical stimulation from a cochlear implant enhances neural survival and regeneration from AAV-BDNF gene therapy, and (ii) To determine if electrical stimulation from a cochlear implant changes the gene expression profile from AAV-BDNF gene therapy
Methods: Guinea pigs were deafened by ototoxic agents (n=16). Gene therapy was by injection of adenoviral vectors expressing a reporter gene together with the neurotrophic factor BDNF. An electrode array was then implanted and guinea pigs received electrical stimulation for 4 weeks. Control animals did not receive stimulation.
Results: Ototoxic exposure resulted in a significant loss of SGNs (p<0.05). Guinea pigs that had combined electrical stimulation and BDNF gene therapy did not have a significant change in EABR threshold and had greater density of SGNs compared to control, while animals that did not receive stimulation had a significant increase (i.e. deterioration) in EABR threshold and had a significant loss of SGNs (p<0.05). There is also a trend towards a greater level of gene expression in animals that received electrical stimulation.
In conclusion, the results suggest positive effects of combining gene therapy and electrical stimulation.

Bio: Dr Rachael Richardson is current a Senior Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute. Rachael’s research focus is on gene therapy in the cochlea for the preservation and regeneration of cochlear sensory cells after hearing loss since.  She uses viral gene therapy techniques to create localized regions of gene expression in the cochlea for sensory cell survival or regeneration. Recently Rachael and her team have also been investigating optogenetics to determine whether auditory neurons can be stimulated more precisely with light compared to electrical stimulation.  Rachael completed a BSc degree at the University of Melbourne in Biochemistry and Pathology. Her BSc(Hons) and PhD were undertaken at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Department of Cancer and Haematology, supervised by Prof Doug Hilton. Rachael has worked at the Bionics Institute since 2001.
24/03/2017 4:00 PMMinimally-Invasive Electrodes for Long-Term Sub-scalp EEGDr Yuri Benovitski

Bio: Dr. Yuri Benovitski’s 2014 PhD thesis is titled “Behavioural and Cortical Responses to Electric and Acoustic Stimulation in Partial Hearing Cochlear Implant Model” undertaken at the Bionics Institute (sponsored by La-Trobe University) supervised by James Fallon, Graeme Rathbone and Peter Blamey. He also holds a bachelor of Electronic Engineering (Hons) from RMIT University. After completing an internship at Monash Biomedical Imaging (sponsored by VLSCI) in 2014 he returned to the Bionics Institute. He is currently developing a minimally-invasive long-term EEG monitoring implant. This is part of a multidisciplinary team effort in collaboration with St. Vincents Hospital, Melbourne University, and Cochlear Ltd.

Abstract: Objective: Minimally-invasive approaches are needed for long-term reliable Electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to assist with diagnosis, investigation and more naturalistic monitoring of neurological disorders such as epilepsy. A study comparing three methods for long-term implantation of sub-scalp EEG electrodes would be discussed.
Methods: Three types of electrodes (disk, ring, and peg) were designed and fabricated at the Bionics Institute from biocompatible materials and implanted under the scalp in five ambulatory ewes for 3+ months. Disk electrodes were inserted into sub-pericranial pockets. Ring electrodes were tunneled under the scalp. Peg electrodes were inserted into the skull, close to the dura. EEG was continuously monitored wirelessly. High resolution CT imaging, histopathology, and impedance measurements were used to assess the status of the electrodes at the end of the study.
Results: EEG amplitude was larger in the peg compared with the disk and ring electrodes. Similarly, chewing artifacts were lower in the peg electrodes. Electrode impedance increased after long-term implantation particularly for those within the bone. Micro-CT scans indicated that all electrodes stayed within the sub-scalp layers. All pegs remained within the burr holes as implanted with no evidence of extrusion. Eight of 10 disks partially eroded into the bone by 1.0 mm from the surface of the skull. The ring arrays remained within the sub-scalp layers close to implantation site. Histology revealed that the electrodes were encapsulated in a thin fibrous tissue adjacent to the pericranium. Overlying this was a loose connective layer and scalp. Erosion into the bone occurred under the rim of the sub-pericranial disk electrodes.
Conclusions: The results indicate that the peg electrodes provided high quality EEG, mechanical stability, and lower chewing artifact. Whereas, ring electrode arrays tunneled under the scalp enable minimal surgical techniques to be used for implantation and removal.

17/03/2017 4:00 PMImproving Epilepsy Management from Big DataDr. Dean Freestone
Abstract: In this talk Dr Freestone will discuss findings from analysing the NeuroVista dataset. The NeuroVista dataset is largest continuous set of neural recordings from patients with epilepsy. The insights from this data highlight the patient-specific aspects of epilepsy, including seizure rhythms across multiple scales, a new understanding of seizure types. This talk will outline how this information can be used to improve epilepsy management and our road map to clinically viable seizure forecasting.
Bio: Dr Freestone’s research is based on using engineering methods to better manage neurological disorders. He is working closely with Medtronic and IBM Australia to develop new technology to repair broken neural circuits. Dr Freestone has an honours degree in Electronic Engineering from La Trobe University, where he was supervised by Graeme Rathbone. In 2012, he completed his PhD in Engineering under the supervision of Prof David Grayden. Dr Freestone was the 2014-2015 Victorian Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University before returning to Melbourne in October 2015. He is now a junior faculty member in the Department of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, with Prof Mark Cook. He is a cofounder of Seer Medical, a new company that is focused on using data from implantable and wearable devices to improve healthcare.
10/03/2017 4:00 PMChanges in the conceptualization of auditory cortical receptive fields: Diamond and Weinberger 30 years laterProf. Dexter Irvine

Abstract: In 1986, Diamond and Weinberger reported changes in the frequency response areas of neurons in non-primary areas of auditory cortex as a consequence of behavioural conditioning procedures. Shortly after, changes in neuronal frequency selectivity in primary auditory cortex (AI) were described as a consequence of both restricted cochlear lesions and of conditioning. This evidence for plasticity of auditory cortical spectral receptive fields triggered major changes in the way in which these fields are conceptualized. Rather than being a relatively simple reflection of input from a labelled line originating from a frequency selective point on the basilar membrane, the spectral receptive field of an auditory cortical neuron at any point in time is sculpted from an extraordinarily wide range of inputs from a wide range of sources. The sculpting process itself can be driven by a wide range of experiential variables.  The early experiments, and the range of subsequent studies that have shaped our current understanding of spectral RFs, will be reviewed.

Bio: Professor Dexter Irvine completed a BA (Hons) degree in Psychology at the University of Sydney in 1966 and a PhD in auditory neuroscience at Monash University in 1971. After post-doctoral training at the University of Western Australia and the University of California at Irvine, he joined the Department of Psychology at Monash University. He has spent periods as a visiting research fellow at the University of Heidelberg, the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and the University of Washington (Seattle). He held a Personal Chair at Monash from 1994 until his retirement in 2005, and is now an Emeritus Professor in the Sub-Faculty of Psychological and Biomedical Sciences and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He currently has a part-time position as a Professorial Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute. Throughout his career, Professor Irvine’s research has been directed to a number of aspects of central auditory processing, notably mechanisms of sound localization and the functional organization of the auditory cortex. Over the last twenty-five years, his work has focused on plasticity in the adult auditory system. He has published a monograph on auditory brainstem processing, a co-edited book on auditory spectral processing, and approximately 125 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on various aspects of the neural mechanisms of hearing.

3/03/2017 4:00 PMHow to Diagnose AtaxiaDr David Szmulewicz
Abstract: One of the most common and medically concerning manifestations of ataxia (or incoordination) is gait imbalance. Imbalance represents one of the most prevalent medical complaints globally and in the developed world is as common a presentation as back pain or headache. With an overall incidence of 5-10%, imbalance effects 40% of people older than 40 years and the incidence of falls is 25% in those aged 65 and over. Diagnosis of dizziness or balance disorders is very often challenging, with no single cause accounting for more than 5–10% of cases. Historically, the study of the vestibular, cerebellar and proprioceptive systems has proceeded separately, leading to the impression that some researchers and clinicians regard these systems as physiologically independent. There has also been a lack of ‘tools’ for readily describing and measuring dysfunction in these systems. This current program of work aims to instrument key aspects of the clinical examination that are utilized in the assessment of the imbalanced patient.
Bio:David Szmulewicz is a Neurologist, Neuro-otologist and medical researcher. He holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne. His clinical and research interests include balance disorders that affect the vestibular system, cerebellum and the combination of the two. He is the head of the Balance Disorders & Ataxia Service at the Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, founder of the AlfredHeallth Cerebellar Ataxia Clinic, honorary consultant Neurologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and Lecturer at Melbourne and La Trobe Universities. David is lead investigator on research defining a novel ataxia – Cerebellar Ataxia with Neuropathy and Vestibular Areflexia Syndrome (CANVAS), a project looking at improved methods of imbalance diagnosis, as well as the development of an interactive vertigo assessment tool (iVAT) and an objective bedside test of imbalance - the video VVOR. He is co-director of The Australian Temporal Bone Bank which aims to facilitate pathological investigation of hearing and balance diseases.
24/02/2017 4:00 PMA journey of our progress to restore hearing in the deaf cochlea using stem cellsDr Bryony Nayagam - Bionics Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, The University of Melbourne.

Abstract: Dr Nayagam’s research is focussed on investigating whether stem cells can provide functional replacement neurons to the deaf cochlea. Replacing these dying neurons could lead to enhanced benefits with a cochlear implant for severely-to-profoundly deaf individuals, and may help to restore hearing in patients with auditory neuropathy. Her studies are aimed at addressing several major challenges including differentiation of stem cells into functional auditory neurons, examining if these stem cell-derived neurons can make synapses on appropriate tissues, and whether neural function can be improved when stem cells are combined with electrical stimulation from a cochlear implant. Recent studies in the Nayagam lab have demonstrated that stem cells can be induced to differentiate into sensory neurons in vitro, using an number of human pluripotent stem cell lines. All stem cell types produce cells which express auditory neural proteins and are physiologically functional. Furthermore, human pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons make synaptic contacts on peripheral (hair cells) and central (cochear nucleus) tissues when co-cultured for two weeks in vitro. We are currently investigating the effects of chronic electrical stimulation, delivered via a fully implantable cochlear implant, on the central and functional integration of stem cells transplanted into the deafened mammalian cochlea. Our data has shown that human and mammalian stem cell transplants are well tolerated in the deaf mammalian cochlea and survive and differentiate for periods of at least 8 weeks. The described studies use a well characterised system for proof-of-concept experiments to test the functional integration of human stem cell-derived neurons. This addresses a critical step in the development of a stem cell therapy for neural replacement, by determining whether neurons derived from stem cells can make functional connections with tissues of the peripheral and central nervous system. Whilst currently in the basic research phase, our experimentation is designed to be directly applicable in the clinic, with an emphasis on providing patient-matched stem cells and delivering these using clinically relevant surgical procedures. This talk will give an overview of progress made over the last decade and include current and future investigations of this nature.

Bio: Dr Bryony Nayagam undertook her PhD with Professor Rob Shepherd at the Bionic Ear Institute in Melbourne (2003-2006), where she examined the potential of stem cells to provide replacement neurons to the deaf mammalian cochlea. She went on to complete post-doctoral studies at the Eaton Peabody Laboratories, Harvard, with Professor Albert Edge and then at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, with Professor David Ryugo as part of a Victoria Fellowship awarded in 2007. Dr Nayagam returned to the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne in 2008 to establish a research group in stem cells and regeneration as a full-time Research Fellow. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, University of Melbourne, where she coordinates the Anatomy and Physiology subjects for the Masters of Audiology and the Masters of Speech Pathology courses. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute (where her biological research group is based) and a current Garnett Passe and Rodeney Williams Memorial Foundation Research Fellow (2015-2019). Her major research interests lie in stem cell and regenerative therapies for hearing restoration, with an emphasis on whether transplanted stem cells can restore a functional neural circuit (NHMRC GNT#1023372; 2012-2017)

17/02/2017 4:00 PMNonlinear retinal ganglion cell responses are mediated by activation of retinal interneurons during electrical stimulationDr Matias Maturana, National Vision Research Institute
Abstract: Retinal implants electrically stimulate surviving retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to restore sight in people who have lost their photoreceptors through degenerative diseases. Complex spatial and temporal interactions occur in the retina during multi-electrode stimulation. Due to these complexities, most neural implants activate only a few electrodes at a time, limiting the repertoire of available stimulation patterns. By measuring the spatiotemporal interactions and incorporating them into a model, algorithms that exploit the interactions between electrodes can be designed. Here, we present a computational model that accurately predicts both the spatial and temporal nonlinear interactions of multi electrode stimulation of rat RGCs. Our model was verified using in vitro recordings of ON, OFF, and ON OFF RGCs in response to subretinal multi electrode stimulation at three stimulation frequencies (10, 20, 30 Hz). The model gives an estimate each cell’s spatiotemporal electrical receptive fields (ERFs); i.e. the pattern of stimulation leading to excitation or suppression in the neuron. All cells had excitatory ERFs. In addition, many had suppressive ERFs, which opens the possibility for cell responses to also be actively suppressed using electrical stimulation. We show that the complexities in observed responses arise largely from activation of retinal interneurons. When synaptic transmissions were blocked, RGC responses could be accurately described by a simpler linear model.
Bio: Matias completed a Bachelor of Arts/Science at the University of Melbourne in 2006 and subsequently went on to complete a Masters of Engineering (Electrical) in 2012. During his Masters, Matias worked part-time at Bionic Vision Australia doing computational modelling of the intrinsic properties of retinal ganglion cells. His interest in visual neuroscience led him to begin his PhD in 2013, where he investigated novel stimulation strategies for the bionic eye implant. Matias completed a PhD in Engineering (Electrical) in 2016. Currently, Matias works as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Vision Research Institute. His work involves electrically stimulating retinal ganglion cells with multielectrode arrays and developing mathematical models that relate the responses to the electrical stimuli.
10/02/2017 4:00 PMVision assessment and rehabilitation in the age of substitute, restorative, and prosthetic visionA/Prof Gislin Dagnelie, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Abstract: The past decade has seen a rapid expansion of potential treatment options for blinding diseases, particularly those of the outer retina.  The examples or gene therapy for LCA, the Brainport sensory substitution, and more than a half dozen retinal implants that have been tested or are in clinical use have taught us that it is difficult to measure treatment benefit, and that the development of assessment and rehabilitation methods is an arduous task. 

In this talk we will approach these tasks from the opposite end of the spectrum, that of individuals with minimal remaining natural vision, and use their visual experience to develop new assessment and rehab methods.
Bio: Gislin Dagnelie, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, a division of the Wilmer Eye Institute. His work over the last 25 years has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and multiple other public and private sponsors. Dr. Dagnelie has been the Center Principal Investigator for clinical trials of the Second Sight Argus™ 2 retinal implant (2007-present) and is now leading several follow-up studies of Argus II use in patients’ daily lives.  In addition, he studies signals in the retina of retinal prosthesis patients, is involved in the development of psychophysical strategies for the Chicago intracortical prosthesis project, and is developing rehabilitation and assessment methods for visual prosthesis wearers and other individuals with ultra-low vision.
3/02/2017 4:00 PMBionic Eyes - Improving patient outcomes through eye trackingSam Titchener, pHD Student, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Most retinal implant designs incorporate a head-mounted camera that captures the visual input to the system. Users of these devices cannot use eye movements to explore their visual environment because the orientation of the head-mounted camera, which is fixed in place relative to the head, is inherently decoupled from the orientation of their eyes. Instead, they rely on head and neck movements to direct the field of view of the camera. Our initial studies investigate how eye movements affect perception in prosthetic vision. Ultimately we aim to use eye tracking technology to enable patients to naturalistically explore their visual environment by controlling the field of view with eye movements.
16/12/2016 4:00 PMCurrent steering and current focusing techniques for a retinal prosthesis Dr Mohit Shivdasani, Senior Research Fellow, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Over the last decade, retinal prostheses have emerged as the only regulatory-approved technology to provide vision to profoundly blind patients. Contemporary devices provide sufficient vision for object detection, discrimination and motion detection. However, patients generally perform poorly for tasks requiring higher spatial resolution such as object recognition and reading. Factors responsible for this include the spatial distortion of phosphenes, phosphene overlap and perceptual interactions between electrodes, mostly attributed to current spread in the retina. In an effort to improve resolution, our group has been evaluating the efficacy of several current steering and current focusing techniques in preclinical studies. An overview of these techniques, our experimental results and implications for future work including their clinical application will be presented.    
Bio: Dr Mohit Shivdasani arrived in Australia from India to pursue a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at La Trobe University. He subsequently completed a PhD in Auditory Neuroscience following which he took up a postdoctoral position at the Bionics Institute in 2009. Since then, he has been part of a multi-disciplinary team that developed a prototype implant through a federally funded grant awarded to Bionic Vision Australia. Based on his preclinical and clinical experience with this prototype, his future goals are to continue basic research to help improve the resolution of the implant in order to improve functional outcomes.
8/12/2016 12:00 PMBrain Drug Fluid Delivery Dr Daniel J. Abrams, CEO, Cerebral Therapeutics
Abstract: Brain drug delivery has promise for a number of important neurologic disorders.  A short history of spinal drug utilization, implantable systems and brain drug utilization will be presented.
Bio: Dr. Abrams is a cofounder of Cerebral Therapeutics and serves as its startup CEO.  Prior to founding Cerebral Therapeutics, Dr. Abrams founded Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals, Inc., raising $21.5 million in Series A venture capital and put together a world class team of advisers, physician leaders and executives to form its board of directors.  Dr. Abrams was active with Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals, Inc. until July of 2009.  Dr. Abrams practiced as a neurosurgeon and served as head of the Department of Neurosurgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver.  Dr. Abrams’ practical experience with implantable pumps and medications in neurology and psychiatry, and his experience with interdisciplinary medical teams and research groups, make him uniquely qualified to lead Cerebral Therapeutics in its focus of clinically testing brain drug delivery.
2/12/2016 12:00 PMEpigenetic regulation of hair cell regeneration in the cochlea Dr Niliksha Gunewardene, Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School 
Abstract: One of the primary causes of deafness is the loss of hair cells in the inner ear. Unlike hair cells in lower vertebrates, adult mammals are unable to spontaneously regenerate their hair cells, hence making deafness due to hair cell loss permanent and intractable. Whilst some hair cell regeneration is detected in early postnatal mice, the reason for the lack of regenerative capacity in the adult cochlea remains unknown. One hypothesis is that chemical modifications (epigenetic marks) have silenced genes responsible for hair cell regeneration. This talk will focus on elucidating the epigenetic mechanisms underlying hair cell differentiation and how these modifications can be manipulated to regenerate hair cells and restore hearing in the deaf mammalian cochlea.
Bio: Dr Gunewardene graduated from the University of Auckland in 2010, with a degree in Biomedical Science and a Masters in Auditory Neuroscience. Her Masters project was focused on developing a treatment for Cisplatin-induced ototoxicity and was supervised by Professors Peter Thorne and Srdjan Vlajkovic. In 2011, Niliksha begun her PhD under the supervision of Dr Bryony Nayagam at the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne. She examined the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells for auditory neuron replacement in the deaf cochlea. Her thesis was nominated for the Dean’s Prize for Excellence (2014). Niliksha is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Professor Albert Edge’s Lab at the Harvard Medical School.
25/11/2016 4:00 PMObjective measures of temporal processing and speech understanding in normally-hearing young adults Dr Hamish Innes-Brown, Research Fellow, Bionics Institute
Abstract: People with impaired hearing often have difficulties understanding speech sounds in noisy environments. This problem is partially a result of the auditory systems reduced capacity to process temporal information. In this presentation I will report our previous research examining the relationships between perceptual sensitivity to temporal fine structure (TFS) cues, brainstem encoding of complex harmonic and amplitude modulated sounds, and the ability to understand speech in noise. A second study also includes psychophysical and ASSR-based measures of modulation detection sensitivity and inter-aural phase detection sensitivity, as well as speech understanding in co-located and spatially-separated noise conditions. Rather than a single group with a variety of hearing thresholds and ages, the new study is restricted to young people (20-30 years) with normal hearing.
Bio: Hamish is a research fellow at the Bionics Institute in Melbourne. He is interested in how the mind perceives the outside world – especially when parts of the sensory system are damaged. Currently he is working to improve the way that vital but subtle sounds are transmitted via a bionic ear to the brain. To do this he measures brain activity using electrical and optical probes while people listen to challenging sounds. He has also had a long interest in how people with hearing difficulties experience music, and how music itself might change in response to altered hearing.
18/11/2016 4:00 PMUnderstanding the mechanisms underlying postural instability in Parkinson’s disease Joy Tan, PhD Student/Research assistant, Bionics Institute

Abstract: Balance difficulties commonly emerge in advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. This debilitating condition results in reduced mobility, increased falls, and diminished quality of life. The effectiveness of medication and deep brain stimulation to alleviate postural deficits remain variable. Clinical measures of postural instability are insensitive and subjective, and do not differentiate the underlying causes of postural instability. As such, we developed a novel instrumented system to precisely measure balance using 3D motion tracking by measuring truncal responses. We found the system was able to detect sensitive changes in truncal responses using the “StartReact” paradigm in young healthy participants. In combination with posturography, we investigate the differing mechanisms underlying postural instability in patients with Parkinson’s disease on current therapies of medication and deep brain stimulation.

Bio: Joy Tan is a physiotherapist and PhD student at the Bionics Institute/The University of Melbourne. Her research investigates the effects of deep brain stimulation on postural instability in Parkinson’ disease. Joy completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and works concurrently at the Royal Melbourne Hospital specialising in movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease. She has a particular interest in gait and balance impairments for clinical practice and research.

18/11/2016 4:00 PMRestricting neural activation using focused multipolar stimulation in a model of retinal degenerationTom Spencer, PhD Student, Bionics Institute
Abstract: Retinal prostheses work by electrically stimulating residual retinal neurons, providing artificial input to the visual system in patients with severe photoreceptor loss. The resolution provided by retinal implants is still severely limiting for recipients. A major limiting factor is presumed to be uncontrolled spread of activation within the retina in response to monopolar (MP) electrical stimulation. Previously we have shown focused multipolar (FMP) stimulation can be used to restrict activation spread in the visual cortex. This study investigates the use of this technique in a model of retinal degeneration, to verify the efficacy of FMP following the morphological and functional changes associated with photoreceptor loss.
11/11/2016 4:00 PMDeveloping Stimuli-responsive Electroactive Materials for Biomedical ResearchProf Simon Moulton, Professor of Biomedical Electromaterials Science, Swinburne University of Technology
Abstract: Recent advances in the ability to manipulate and characterise materials have brought us closer to creating more effective bionic interfaces. The nature of that interface is dependent upon the chemical, physical, morphological and mechanical properties of the implant. Research being undertaken at Swinburne University and within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science continues to develop a class of material, termed electromaterials that permits the on demand manipulation of the materials-biological interface. This presentation will showcase several research projects where stimuli-responsive electromaterials have been used to manipulate the cellular environment (nerve, muscle and stem cell) as well as provide a means to control the delivery of therapeutic agents (neurotrophins and anti-epilepsy drugs).
Bio: Prof Moulton obtained his PhD in 2002 from University of Wollongong under the supervision of Prof Gordon Wallace. After graduation he continued to work within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) until 2014 when he moved to Swinburne University to take up the position of Professor of Biomedical Electromaterials Science. His field of research is developing stimuli responsive electroactive materials for use in a variety of biomedical applications ranging cellular stimulation to controlled drug delivery.
10/11/2016 12:00 PMRestoring Walking after Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury using Intraspinal MicrostimulationAshley Dalrymple, PhD Candidate, Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta
Abstract: A spinal cord injury (SCI) results in paralysis of muscles below the lesion. The degree of paralysis depends on the level and extent of damage to the spinal cord, with incomplete being the most frequent type of SCI. The goal of my work is to improve mobility after incomplete SCI using intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS).
ISMS entails implanting electrodes into the ventral horns of the lumbosacral enlargement of the spinal cord to achieve coordinated movements of the legs. In a complete SCI model, ISMS produced long distances of walking (~ 1km), suggesting that it may be a viable clinical method. The focus of this ongoing work is to develop adaptable control strategies that augment variable residual function after an incomplete SCI.
The control strategies are tested using a computational model of a cat and two SCI models that affect both legs variably. Residual function is measured with sensors for muscle activity, limb position, and loading. Using this information as feedback, and delivering stimulation to the spinal cord as needed, the controller augments remaining function to produce propulsive walking. The controller adapts to variable deficits using machine learning, adapting the stimulation as needed in real-time, creating a personalized neural prosthesis.

Bio: Ashley Dalrymple is a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Alberta. She holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Alberta. Her research interests include functional electrical stimulation, neural interfaces, rehabilitation, and machine learning. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to restore function and improve the lives of those affected by neural injuries and disorders.
4/11/2016 4:00 PMInnervation of mammalian auditory tissues by stem cell-derived neuronsTomoko Hyakumura, PhD student and research assistant, Bionics Institute
Abstract: The loss of auditory neurons that occurs with profound hearing loss is irreversible in humans. Stem cell therapy for auditory neuron replacement thereby offers potential for hearing restoration in patients with profound deafness. This project aims to investigate and quantify the formation of new synapses between human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons and target peripheral and central auditory tissues in vitro.
Sensory neurons were generated from human embryonic stem cells over 21 days in vitro and then co-cultured with developing sensory hair cells or cochlear nucleus slices for a further 2 weeks. Synapse formation was examined using four-channel immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, and analysed using ImageJ software. Stem cell-derived synapses were then compared to synapses in the developing mammalian peripheral and central auditory system.
Stem cell-derived neurons expressed synapsin 1 and vesicular glutamate transporter-1 at sites of innervation with both hair cells and cochlear nucleus neurons. This observation is consistent with results obtained from control cocultures using early postnatal auditory neurons and auditory tissues. Significantly more synaptic contacts were observed in stem cell cocultures in comparison to control cocultures (P <0.05). Moreover, new synapses from stem cell-derived neurons corresponded anatomically with early synaptogenesis in the developing mammalian auditory system in vivo. This assay describes the characterisation, timing and quantification of new synaptic connections both by stem cell-derived neurons in vitro and in the developing mammalian auditory system.
Bio: Tomoko graduated from Monash University with an Honours Degree in Biochemistry. Her Honours project investigated the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells towards a visceral endoderm-like lineage. After graduating, she was recruited to work as a research assistant in Professor Seong-Seng Tan’s laboratory at the Howard Florey Institute, investigating mouse cortical development using transgenic and conditional knockout mice. In 2012, Tomoko was awarded an Australian postgraduate award and Australian Stem Cell Centre postgraduate Scholarship to complete her PhD under the supervision of Dr Bryony Nayagam. Her achievements have won her several awards including the 2014 “Under the Coverslip” competition and a scholarship from the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience.
28/10/2016 4:00 PMEvaluating Miniature Deep Brain Stimulation Electrodes In VivoDr Joel Villalobos
Abstract: Deep Brain Stimulation is used for the treatment of motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, its efficacy is limited by factors including poor selectivity of stimulation, targeting error, and complications related to implant reliability and stability. We aim to improve clinical outcomes by miniaturizing the implantable electrode array, improving stimulation selectivity with finer electrode spacing, and assisting targeting by incorporating microelectrodes into the device. We used micro-wire electrodes incorporated into Deep Brain Stimulation implants with different diameters (miniature = 0.65 and standard = 1.3 mm). Arrays were bilaterally implanted into the thalamus in ten anaesthetised cats for 24-40 hours using stereotactic techniques. Recordings of local field potentials and multi-unit activity were obtained at 1 mm intervals along the electrode insertion track.
Local field potentials were recorded from all ring electrodes, despite the higher impedance of the miniature ring electrodes (608±158 Ω at 1 kHz vs. 427±47 Ω for the standard rings). Multi-unit activity (signal-to-noise ratio of 15–30 dB) was recorded from 54% of the microelectrodes; mostly from the microelectrodes placed at the distal end. Histological examination showed localized trauma along the implant. The extent of oedema and haemorrhage was significantly reduced with the miniature electrodes (119–352 µm vs. 311–571 µm; t-test, P < 0.001).
The miniature electrodes reduced the extent of acute trauma, while still providing adequate performance for both stimulating and recording, and providing the option to target smaller volumes of tissue. The incorporation of microelectrodes into the electrode array may allow for a simplified, single-step surgical approach.
Bio: Joel Villalobos is a Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute (Melbourne, Australia). He completed a PhD at The University of Melbourne on the preclinical evaluation of a retinal prosthesis (Bionic Eye), enabling the translation into a first-in-human (clinical) trial. His background studies in Electronic Systems Engineering (Cum Laude, Tec de Monterrey) led him initially into the instrumentation (electronic) and automation industry in his native México. There he worked as a senior design engineer with clients (international) in the building automation (smart buildings) and automotive (cars) industries. These days, Joel’s efforts at the Bionics Institute concentrate on improving technologies for treating degenerative blindness (retinitis pigmentosa) and Parkinson’s disease.
21/10/2016 4:00 PMCommercialising innovations through industry collaboration: learnings from ‘SoundRecover’Prof Hugh McDermott, Leader, Neurobionics Research, Bionics Institute

Abstract: SoundRecover is an innovative sound-processing technique that improves the performance of acoustic hearing aids. It was developed in Melbourne by a small team of researchers working in close collaboration with Phonak, the world's largest manufacturer of hearing instruments. SoundRecover was devised, developed, and initially evaluated during 2002-2005. It was launched commercially by Phonak in 2007. Its immediate success led rapidly to its introduction in almost all of Phonak's hearing-aid products, of which over 1 million are sold globally each year.

SoundRecover helps many hearing-aid users to hear high-frequency sounds by shifting them to lower frequencies. Although frequency lowering is not a new concept, the digital signal processing techniques employed in SoundRecover are innovative and protected in a number of patents. In the years since SoundRecover was launched, the hearing-aid industry has experienced a minor paradigm shift: whereas frequency lowering was widely considered to be worthless when we started our research, now almost all major hearing-aid companies around the world have some type of frequency lowering in their product portfolio.

In this seminar I will discuss the benefits of working directly with a major technology company as well as some of the challenges we encountered and (mostly) overcame. Our experiences are highly relevant to many of the Bionics Institute's projects, particularly as we align our research objectives more closely with commercial considerations.

Bio: I have worked in the field of cochlear implants and related devices for 35 years. As my background is in electronic engineering, my contributions to the field are mostly related to techniques for electrical nerve stimulation and signal processing. Translation of research into practical outcomes that benefit people has always been a major aim of my work. I am named as an inventor on 25 patents or patent applications, and 5 innovative technologies to which I contributed are embodied in successful commercial products. I am an author or co-author of over 140 publications and have been invited to speak at international conferences on over 60 occasions. I am a Fellow of IEEE, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. I received the inaugural Callier Prize from the University of Texas, Dallas in 2009. I joined the Bionics Institute as Deputy Director (Research) in 2010, and at present my main role is to lead a research program focused on developing deep brain stimulation devices to improve treatment of Parkinson's disease and other disorders.

7/10/2016 4:00 PMWhat does it take to get a new medical device to market: Regulatory approvals mazeGraeme Rathbone, Project Manager, Bionics Institute

Abstract: Maze: 1) a confusing network of intercommunicating paths or passages; labyrinth. 2) any complex system or arrangement that causes bewilderment, confusion, or perplexity. In this presentation, I will draw on my current experience with the development of two new devices and past experiences with the TGA, Bionics Institute and lecture presentations to outline the process of medical device regulatory approvals for Australia, New Zealand, North America and some aspects of Europe. This topic is of increasing importance to the emerging commercial interests of the Bionics Institute.

Bio: Graeme has worked in the private, public and academic sectors. He has the majority of his working life lecturing in Biomedical Engineering and Control Systems, initially at RMIT, then La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne. He has undertaken research at the Bionics Institute over the last 10 years including supervision of Masters and PhD students. However, he has also been active in the Yarra Valley wine business, being a co-founder of Yering Station (1996) and owner of Diamond Valley Vineyards (since 2005) and will draw on some of that experience in this second presentation.

23/09/2016 4:00 PMLearning curve – an engineer’s amble towards the foothills of molecular biology Prof Peter Seligman
Abstract: As an electrical engineer who came up through the tech school system, we did no biology and certainly no molecular biology (which hardly existed then). But recent events in molecular biology have struck me as being truly momentous in their implications. I needed to know more. So starting from nothing, recently I have been self-educating myself on this. It’s really fascinating and has a lot of similarity to engineering in many ways.
I’d like to take you on my journey. I’ve learned (very superficially) 
•              What DNA is
•              How it is distributed in the body, and any life for that matter.
•              How it is extracted from a sample of tissue
•              How it can be amplified from a single strand to billions
•              How to sequence  it
•              How it can be edited quickly and efficiently
•              What a gene is
•              What the role of genes is
•              How they replicate
•              How genes operate in living things, to grow tissue, perform functions, go wrong
•              How our bodies/life utilize many different DNA systems
•              About problems and challenges.
Bio: Peter was a key member of the team that developed the Melbourne/Cochlear multiple-channel cochlear implant. He worked in the field for 30 years and was particularly responsible for the development and improvement of speech processors.  In 1979 he designed the first portable Speech Processor for the University of Melbourne device. He joined Cochlear Ltd (Nucleus) in 1983 and was instrumental in speech processor miniaturisation and improvement including the development of custom microchips to implement new speech processing strategies. He holds 21 patents. His special interest was the development of smaller behind-the-ear speech processors and totally implanted cochlear implants.
16/09/2016 2:00 PMTen rules for the interpretation and presentation of data in publications Prof David Vaux, Deputy Director, WEHI
Abstract: Science is knowledge gained through repeated observation or experiment. It is communicated through publication of papers in journals. Science can only flourish if its results are reproducible, journals maintain minimal standards, and papers are read critically. The talk will be illustrated by numerous examples of papers by high profile researchers in prestigious journals that would only have had some value had they been printed on absorbent paper with perforated pages.
Bio: David Vaux is Deputy Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI). He graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne, and then completed a PhD at WEHI before 3 years as a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford. He returned to the WEHI in 1993. For his research on cell death he was awarded the Victoria Prize for science in 2003. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. He is on the Board of the Center for Scientific Integrity, the parent of Retraction Watch. When he isn’t doing research he lobbies for establishment of an Office for Research Integrity in Australia.
2/09/2016 4:00 PMHidden Hearing LossA/Prof James Fallon
Abstract: Recent animal studies have demonstrated that moderate sound exposure can damage up to half the auditory nerves and their synapses, without damaging hair cells. As only a small number of the highly sensitive low-threshold auditory nerve fibres are required for sound detection in quiet environments, there is no loss in auditory sensitivity. Normal auditory thresholds, despite the significant loss of auditory nerve fibres, has led to this type of damage being termed a ‘hidden hearing loss’. To date, the only reported functional consequence of the loss of auditory nerves and their synapses is an increase in median spontaneous firing rate of the auditory nerve fibre population. However, modelling of the loss of functional auditory nerves and their synapses is expected to result in a reduction in temporal fidelity. This project aimed to quantify temporal processing deficits using both behavioural and electrophysiological techniques in an guinea pig model of hidden hearing loss.
Bio: A/Prof James Fallon’s training, like his research interests, is multidisciplinary in nature, and is focused around the successful development and improvement of neural prostheses, with an emphasis on the role of central nervous system plasticity. He has formal training in both physiology and engineering and employs a range of techniques from basic engineering through anatomical studies to behavioural studies. He has over a decade of experience in recording from the central auditory pathway and is considered a world expert on the plastic response of the central auditory system to deafness and subsequent reactivation with a cochlear implant.
26/08/2016 4:00 PMThe expected benefit of hearing aids as a function of hearing lossProf Peter Blamey, Executive Director Operations & Technology, Blamey & Saunders Hearing Pty Ltd
Abstract: It is often reported clinically that it is important to manage the expectations of clients when fitting hearing aids, but there is little scientific information available about what is a realistic expectation and how to quantify the benefits of hearing aids.  The aim of this study was to estimate the speech perception benefits of hearing aid fitting for clients with different degrees of hearing loss.  The difference between the aided and unaided percentage correct scores on a monosyllabic word test presented binaurally was used as the measure of benefit.  Retrospective data for 592 users of the same type of hearing aid with pure-tone average hearing losses ranging from 6.5 dB HL to 78.5 dB HL in the better ear were analysed using a paired t-test and non-linear regression.  The mean benefit for this group of clients was 18.3% with a 95% confidence interval from 17.0% to 19.6% (paired t=27.1, p<0.001). On average, hearing aids halved the error rate for difficult listening tasks in quiet, and listeners can expect to reduce their error rate in running speech by a factor of four.  The benefit for this group was approximately equivalent to a 28 dB reduction in hearing loss.
Bio: Peter is a hearing scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur who has developed technology and business models that are bringing improved hearing to people throughout Australia.  Peter and his business partner, Elaine Saunders, sell premium hearing aids direct to end-users, enabling them to take control of their own hearing through their online company ( Built on a heritage of research conducted at the Bionics Institute, the company is continuing to innovate and grow, and is starting to manufacture hearing aids in Melbourne.  The company won the inaugural Social Innovation section of the Australian Good Design Awards last year.
5/08/2016 4:00 PMKinEdge: accurate human motion capture using Microsoft Kinect v2 and computer vision techniquesGino Coates & Alessandro Timmi, St Vincent's Department of Surgery, The University of Melbourne
Abstract: Three-dimensional motion analysis has made it possible to analyse different aspects of healthy and pathological human movement. However, motion capture requires expensive and cumbersome multi-camera systems, which track reflective markers attached on the subject’s skin.
The recent release of Microsoft Kinect v2, a gaming device which can track human motion without the need for markers, has generated considerable interest in the biomechanical community, especially given its low cost and portability. However, Kinect v2 marker-less tracking algorithm is highly inaccurate compared to multi-camera motion capture systems: deviations up to 20 cm make this methodology unsuitable for biomechanical or clinical analyses, where accuracy is essential for proper evaluation.
In light of this limitation, we developed an alternative real-time tracking method, based on raw RGB-D data from Kinect v2, custom-made coloured markers and computer vision techniques. Our solution, KinEdge, is one order of magnitude more accurate than the out-of-the-box Kinect v2 marker-less tracking algorithm and runs on consumer-grade PCs. KinEdge can facilitate the adoption of Kinect v2 as a low cost, portable motion tracking solution for biomechanical, rehabilitative, clinical and sports applications. This presentation will walk you through the development of our novel solution and its application for spine tracking and gait analysis.
Gino Coates: I’m a solution architect with over 20 years’ experience, and part time PhD student. My research focuses on building low cost software and hardware solutions for clinical use. I'm interested in biomechanics, software development and practices, science and technology, and Martial-Arts.
Alessandro Timmi: My research interests are focused on the use and adaptation of gaming technologies for human motion capture, musculoskeletal modelling, rehabilitation and sports coaching. Karateka 3rd Dan, YouTuber (check my channel), interested in kinematics, applied mechanics, software development, 3D printing, CAD, CAE, sports engineering and video editing.
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