Medel History...

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20 Dez 2012 15:29 - 20 Dez 2012 15:30 #25621 von Late
Late erstellte das Thema Medel History...
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Journey to Developing MED-EL's CI

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That meant that we had to design and build a multichannel intra-cochlear electrode, and we had to develop all the implantable and the external electronics for the transcutaneous transmission, the coding and decoding circuits and the electrode driving circuitry – all that at minimum power consumption.

Drawing from my previous analog CMOS-experience, combined with some newly acquired skills of how to design and build a biocompatible hermetic housing for our circuit, we were able to finish the whole implant within 1 and ½ years – an unbelievably short time from today’s point of view. It was implanted on December 16, 1977, and was the first micro- electronic multichannel implant in the world.

Our enthusiasm for CIs was not always shared by the scientific community. For example, a well known ear-physiologist said to me: you have 8 stimulation sites, in the normal ear the auditory nerve has 20 000 nerve fibers – your device will never work. Years later, when he made a similar remark about the auditory brainstem implant, which, by the way, also turned out to be overly pessimistic, I reminded him of his first prediction, and he quipped: You just had luck.

And he was right. Even now I am amazed about the performance of some users, considering the crude approximation of the normal function of the auditory system afforded by even the most sophisticated implants.

In my opinion there are two reasons for this serendipity. Most important is the enormous plasticity of the brain, which adapts to even weird representations of the sound input and, after some experience, let them appear as “natural”(mimicking the natural pattern as close as it is technically possible helps, of course). The second reason for the astonishingly good speech understanding of some CI-wearers is the robustness of the speech signal per se. It had developed as a reliable means for communication even under unfavorable circumstances, and it does not tax the ear to its limits. Therefore, implants with their fairly restricted capabilities do provide sufficiently recognizable information to allow “reconstruction” of the message. This is not quite the case with music, however. It certainly is a challenge to further advance CIs such that a CI-wearer can enjoy music considerably more than it is possible today.
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Letzte Änderung: 20 Dez 2012 15:30 von Late.

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