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Colette McKay

BSc(Hons), PhD, PG Diploma in Audiology, MAudSA, CCAudSA

Professor, Leader of Translational Hearing Research

P: +61 3 9667 7541
Professor Colette McKay completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Melbourne in Physics and Mathematics and following this undertook clinical training in Audiology at the same institution. From 1989 to 2004 she held full time research fellow positions in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne. During this time, her research focussed on psychophysics, speech perception, and signal processing in cochlear implants, although she contributed more widely to other areas such as auditory processing in patients with schizophrenia.
In 1998 she was awarded a Senior/Principal Research Fellowship from the Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation and in 2003 an NH&MRC Principal Research Fellowship. In 2002 she was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for her research to improve speech understanding in cochlear implant users.

In 2005 Colette took up a position as Chair in Auditory Sciences at Aston University in the UK, where she launched the auditory research program as well as developing and implementing an undergraduate degree in Audiology. From 2007 she was appointed Chair in Applied Hearing Research at the University of Manchester, UK, where she led the Audiology and Deafness Research Group, and was Director of Research for the School of Psychophysical Sciences. In 2009 she was awarded the Thomas Simm Littler prize for contributions to auditory research by the British Society of Audiology.

In 2013, Colette returned to Melbourne with the assistance of a Victorian State Government Senior veski Innovation Fellowship, to take up the role of Leader in Translational Hearing Research at the Bionics Institute. Colette currently holds honorary professorial fellowships at the University of Manchester and the University of Melbourne Departments of Otolaryngology and Medical Bionics.

Research fields of interest

  • Cochlear Implants – psychophysics, speech understanding, and signal processing
  • Modelling of temporal processing in the auditory system – application to signal processing
  • Deep Brain Stimulation – optimisation of stimulation parameters and fitting techniques

Research projects

  • Understanding the effect of brain plasticity on cochlear implant outcomes in adults using a novel brain imaging technique called functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS).

  • Understanding the effects of deafness and hearing device use on language development in infants and children using fNIRS.

  • Novel methods using EEG and fNIRS to fit hearing devices to infants, and verify their effectiveness.

  • Novel signal processing techniques to improve speech understanding with cochlear implants.

  • Improved outcomes for auditory brainstem implant (ABI) patients. This project aims to optimise outcomes of patients with an ABI by understanding how the auditory system processes stimuli applied to the brainstem. Patients are undergoing a series of psychophysical and speech perception studies. This project is in collaboration with MRC-CBU in Cambridge, UK.

  • Development of Auditory Midbrain Implants. This project aims to evaluate a new type of auditory implant that stimulates the Inferior Colliculus in the midbrain. It is a collaboration between team members in University Hospital Hannover (Germany), University of Minnesota (USA), Cochlear Ltd, and Professor McKay at the Bionics Institute.

  • Deep brain stimulation: Optimising patient outcomes.

Please see list of available student projects for projects supervised by Professor McKay.


1. McKay CM, Shah A, Seghouane A-K, Zhou X, Cross W, Litovsky R. (in press) “Connectivity in language areas of the brain in cochlear implant users as revealed by fNIRS,” in Physiology, Psychoacoustics and Cognition in Normal and Impaired Hearing Eds. van Dijk, Başkent, Gaudrain, de Kleine, Wagner, Lanting. Springer series “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Technology”.

2. Deeks J, Carlyon RP, McKay CM. (2015) "Effect of pulse rate and polarity on the sensitivity of auditory brainstem and cochlear implant users to electrical stimulation" Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 16: 653–668.

3. Visram AS, Innes-Brown H, El Deredy W, McKay CM. (2015). “Cortical auditory evoked potentials as an objective measure of behavioral thresholds in cochlear implant users,” Hearing Research 327: 35-42

4.  Marozeau J, McDermott HJ, Swanson BA, McKay CM. (2015). “Perceptual interactions between electrodes using focused and monopolar cochlear stimulation,” Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 16(3): 401-412.

5.  Azadpour M, McKay CM. (2014). “Processing of speech temporal and spectral information by users of auditory brainstem implants and cochlear implants,” Ear and Hearing 35: e192-203

6.  Fielden CA, Kluk K, and McKay CM (2014). “Interpulse interval discrimination within and across channels: comparison of monopolar and tripolar mode of stimulation,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 135: 2913-2922

7. McKay CM, Azadpour M, Jayewardene-Aston D, O’Driscoll M and El Deredy W. (2015). “Electrode selection and speech understanding in patients with auditory brainstem implants,” Ear and Hearing 36: 454-463

8. Verma RU, Guex A, Hancock KE, Durakovic N, McKay CM, Brown MC, Lee DJ. (2014). "Auditory responses to electric and infrared neural stimulation of the cochlear nucleus." Hearing Research 310:69-75.

9. McKay CM, Chandan K, Akhoun I, Siciliano C, and Kluk K. (2013). “Can ECAP measures be used for totally objective programming of cochlear implants?” Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 14: 879-890

10. McKay CM, Lim HH and Lenarz T. (2013). “Temporal processing in the central auditory system: insights from cochlear and midbrain implants” Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 14(1): 103-124



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