Graeme Clark Collection

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    The multi-channel cochlear implant and the relief of severe-to-profound deafness.
    Clark, G (Informa UK Limited, 2012-05)
    This personal reflection outlines the discoveries at the University of Melbourne leading to the multi-channel cochlear implant, and its development industrially by Cochlear Limited. My earlier experimental electrophysiological research demonstrated temporal coding occurred for only low frequencies, i.e. below 200-500 pulses/second. I was able to confirm these findings perceptually in behaviourally conditioned animals. In addition, these studies showed that temporal discrimination occurred across spatial coding channels. These experimental results correlated with the later conscious experience for electrical stimulation in my implant patients. In addition, the mid-to-high frequencies were coded in part by place of stimulation using bipolar and monopolar stimulation to restrict current spread. Furthermore, place of stimulation had the qualities of sharpness and dullness, and was also experienced as vowels. Owing to the limitation in coding speech with a physiological model due to the overlap of electrical current leading to unpredictable variations in loudness, a speech coding strategy that extracted the most important speech features for transmission through an electro-neural 'bottle-neck' to the brain was explored. Our inaugural strategy, discovered in 1978, extracted the second formant for place of stimulation, voicing for rate of stimulation, and sound pressure for current level. This was the first coding strategy to provide open-set speech understanding, as shown by standard audiological tests, and it became the first clinically successful interface between the world and human consciousness. This strategy was improved with place coding for the third formant or high-frequency spectrum, and then the spectral maxima. In 1989, I operated on our first patient to receive a bilateral implant, and in 1990, the first with a bimodal processor. The psychophysics and speech perception for these showed that the stimuli from each side could be fused into a single image, and localized according to differences in intensity and time of arrival of the stimuli. There were significant improvements for speech perception in noise. In 1985, I implanted our first children with the multi-channel prosthesis and found that speech understanding and spoken language were greatly improved the younger the child at surgery, and especially when younger than 12 months. Speech understanding was strongly related to the development of place coding. In 1990, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the implant for deaf children, the first by any world health regulatory body making it the first major advance in helping deaf children to communicate.
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    Biocompatibility of Immobilized Aligned Carbon Nanotubes
    Nayagam, DAX ; Williams, RA ; Chen, J ; Magee, KA ; Irwin, J ; Tan, J ; Innis, P ; Leung, RT ; Finch, S ; Williams, CE ; Clark, GM ; Wallace, GG (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2011-04-18)
    In vivo host responses to an electrode-like array of aligned carbon nanotubes (ACNTs) embedded within a biopolymer sheet are reported. This biocompatibility study assesses the suitability of immobilized carbon nanotubes for bionic devices. Inflammatory responses and foreign-body histiocytic reactions are not substantially elevated when compared to negative controls following 12 weeks implantation. A fibrous capsule isolates the implanted ACNTs from the surrounding muscle tissue. Filamentous nanotube fragments are engulfed by macrophages, and globular debris is incorporated into the fibrous capsule with no further reaction. Scattered leukocytes are observed, adherent to the ACNT surface. These data indicate that there is a minimal local foreign-body response to immobilized ACNTs, that detached fragments are phagocytosed into an inert material, and that ACNTs do not attract high levels of surface fouling. Collectively, these results suggest that immobilized nanotube structures should be considered for further investigation as bionic components.
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    Inhibition of smooth muscle cell adhesion and proliferation on heparin-doped polypyrrole
    Stewart, EM ; Liu, X ; Clark, GM ; Kapsa, RMI ; Wallace, GG (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2012-01-01)
    We have investigated the application of polypyrrole (pPy) as a material to influence neointimal cell behaviour. The physico-chemical properties of pPy doped with heparin (Hep), para-toluene sulfonate, poly(2-methoxyaniline-5-sulfonic acid) (pMAS) and nitrate ions were studied in addition to cell adhesion and proliferation studies of neointimal relevant cell lines cultured on the pPy substrates. Both smooth muscle (hSMC) and endothelial (hEC) cell types adhered and proliferated best on the smooth, hydrophilic pPy/pMAS material. Moreover, pPy/Hep is able to support the proliferation of hECs on the surface but inhibits hSMC proliferation after 4 days of culture. The inhibitory effect on hSMCs is most likely due to the well-known antiproliferative effect of heparin on hSMC growth. The results presented indicate that surface exposed heparin binds to the putative heparin receptor of hSMCs and is sufficient to inhibit proliferation. The application of galvanostatically synthesized pPy/Hep to stent surfaces presents a novel bioactive control mechanism to control neointimal cell growth.
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    The multi-channel cochlear implant: past, present and future perspectives.
    Clark, G (Informa UK Limited, 2009)
    Initial research demonstrated that only low frequencies could be mimicked with rate of electrical stimulation, and thus multi-channel rather than single-channel stimulation was required for the place coding of the mid-high speech frequencies. Place coding of mid-high frequencies was best achieved with electrodes inside the cochlea. Furthermore, correct biomechanical properties of a multiple electrode bundle were required for it to pass around the cochlear spiral to the speech frequency region. Biological studies showed too that intra-cochlear electrodes could be used with minimal trauma, safe electrical stimulus parameters, and methods to prevent inner ear infection and meningitis. The crucial discoveries for coding speech with electrical stimulation have been based on the discovery of: 1) the fact the brain processes frequency information along spatial and temporal channels, and 2) that the first patient experienced vowels when stimulating different electrodes that corresponded to the place of excitation for single formant vowels in people with normal hearing. The inaugural and subsequent speech processing strategies extracted frequencies of special importance for speech intelligibility, and transmitted the information along place coding channels. The voicing frequency and/or amplitude, was coded as temporal information across these spatial channels. As a result a great majority of severely-to-profoundly deaf people with previous hearing can not only communicate when electrical stimulation is combined with lipreading, but with electrical stimulation alone. In addition, the benefits of binaural hearing with bilateral cochlear implants or an implant in one ear and hearing aid in the other ear have been realized. Related psychophysical research has discovered the basic perceptual skills that process the complex patterns of brain excitation that underlie speech recognition both in the one ear as well as bilateral implants.In addition the development of the perceptual skills in the maturing child for speech recognition, have been discovered. In the future high fidelity sound should be achieved by providing the fine temporo-spatial patterns of excitation and preserving the peripheral nerve network. This could require the release of nerve growth factors and the development of electrodes using nanotechnology.
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    Personal reflections on the multichannel cochlear implant and a view of the future
    Clark, GM (JOURNAL REHAB RES & DEV, 2008-01-01)
    The multichannel cochlear implant is the first neural prosthesis to effectively and safely bring electronic technology into a direct physiological relation with the central nervous system and human consciousness. It is also the first cochlear implant to give speech understanding to tens of thousands of persons with profound deafness and spoken language to children born deaf in more than 80 countries. In so doing, it is the first major advance in research and technology to help deaf children communicate since Sign Language of the Deaf was developed at the Paris deaf school (L'Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris) >200 years ago. Furthermore, biomedical research has been fundamental for ensuring that the multielectrode implant is safe as well as effective. More recent research has also shown that bilateral implants confer the benefits of binaural hearing. Future research using nanotechnology should see high-fidelity sound received, which would help deaf persons communicate in noise and enjoy music. Research should also lead to implants in ears with useful hearing.
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    Midbrain responses to micro-stimulation of the cochlea using high density thin-film arrays
    Allitt, BJ ; Morgan, SJ ; Bell, S ; Nayagam, DAX ; Arhatari, B ; Clark, GM ; Paolini, AG (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2012-05-01)
    A broader activation of auditory nerve fibres than normal using a cochlear implant contributes to poor frequency discrimination. As cochlear implants also deliver a restricted dynamic range, this hinders the ability to segregate sound sources. Better frequency coding and control over amplitude may be achieved by limiting current spread during electrical stimulation of the cochlea and positioning electrodes closer to the modiolus. Thin-film high density microelectrode arrays and conventional platinum ring electrode arrays were used to stimulate the cochlea of urethane-anaesthetized rats and responses compared. Neurophysiological recordings were taken at 197 multi-unit clusters in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (CIC), a site that receives direct monaural innervation from the cochlear nucleus. CIC responses to both the platinum ring and high density electrodes were recorded and differences in activity to changes in stimulation intensity, thresholds and frequency coding of neural activation were examined. The high density electrode array elicited less CIC activity at nonspecific frequency regions than the platinum ring electrode array. The high density electrode array produced significantly lower thresholds and larger dynamic ranges than the platinum ring electrode array when positioned close to the modiolus. These results suggest that a higher density of stimulation sites on electrodes that effectively 'aim' current, combined with placement closer to the modiolus would permit finer control over charge delivery. This may equate to improved frequency specific perception and control over amplitude when using future cochlear implant devices.
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    Can we prevent cochlear implant recipients from developing pneumococcal meningitis?
    Wei, BPC ; Robins-Browne, RM ; Shepherd, RK ; Clark, GM ; O'Leary, SJ (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2008-01-01)
    The restoration of hearing to persons with severely or profoundly impaired hearing by means of a cochlear implant is one of the great achievements of bionics applied to medicine. However, pneumococcal meningitis in implant recipients has received high profile public attention as a result of the US Food and Drug Administration's public health notification and recent media attention. Worldwide, 118 of the 60,000 people who received cochlear implants over the past 20 years have acquired meningitis, causing deep concern in the international medical community. This review provides answers to pediatricians, internists, and infectious diseases doctors who have patients with cochlear implants and who have questions about the safety of the cochlear implant from both the clinical and scientific research perspectives. Both clinical and laboratory research support the notion that pneumococcal meningitis is more likely in patients who receive cochlear implantation, and that the surgical insertion technique and the cochlear implant design should be nontraumatic, and that all cochlear implant recipients should be offered vaccination against Streptococcus pneumoniae.
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    Promoting neurite outgrowth from spiral ganglion neuron explants using polypyrrole/BDNF-coated electrodes
    Evans, AJ ; Thompson, BC ; Wallace, GG ; Millard, R ; O'Leary, SJ ; Clark, GM ; Shepherd, RK ; Richardson, RT (WILEY, 2009-10-01)
    Release of neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from hair cells in the cochlea is essential for the survival of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). Loss of hair cells associated with a sensorineural hearing loss therefore results in degeneration of SGNs, potentially reducing the performance of a cochlear implant. Exogenous replacement of either or both neurotrophins protects SGNs from degeneration after deafness. We previously incorporated NT3 into the conducting polymer polypyrrole (Ppy) synthesized with para-toluene sulfonate (pTS) to investigate whether Ppy/pTS/NT3-coated cochlear implant electrodes could provide both neurotrophic support and electrical stimulation for SGNs. Enhanced and controlled release of NT3 was achieved when Ppy/pTS/NT3-coated electrodes were subjected to electrical stimulation. Here we describe the release dynamics and biological properties of Ppy/pTS with incorporated BDNF. Release studies demonstrated slow passive diffusion of BDNF from Ppy/pTS/BDNF, with electrical stimulation significantly enhancing BDNF release over 7 days. A 3-day SGN explant assay found that neurite outgrowth from explants was 12.3-fold greater when polymers contained BDNF (p < 0.001), although electrical stimulation did not increase neurite outgrowth further. The versatility of Ppy to store and release neurotrophins, conduct electrical charge, and act as a substrate for nerve-electrode interactions is discussed for specialized applications such as cochlear implants.
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    Conducting polymers, dual neurotrophins and pulsed electrical stimulation - Dramatic effects on neurite outgrowth
    Thompson, BC ; Richardson, RT ; Moulton, SE ; Evans, AJ ; O'Leary, S ; Clark, GM ; Wallace, GG (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2010-01-25)
    In this study the synergistic effect of delivering two neurotrophins simultaneously to encourage neuron survival and neurite elongation was explored. Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were incorporated into polypyrrole (PPy) during electrosynthesis and the amounts incorporated and released were determined using iodine-125 ((125)I) radio-labelled neurotrophins. Neurite outgrowth from cochlear neural explants grown on the conducting polymer was equivalent to that on tissue culture plastic but significantly improved with the incorporation of NT-3 and BDNF. Neurite outgrowth from explants grown on polymers containing both NT-3 and BDNF showed significant improvement over PPy doped only with NT-3, due to the synergistic effect of both neurotrophins. Neurite outgrowth was significantly improved when the polymer containing both neurotrophins was electrically stimulated. It is envisaged that when applied to the cochlear implant, these conducting and novel polymer films will provide a biocompatible substrate for storage and release of neurotrophins to help protect auditory neurons from degradation after sensorineural hearing loss and encourage neurite outgrowth towards the electrodes.
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    Creating conductive structures for cell growth: Growth and alignment of myogenic cell types on polythiophenes
    Breukers, RD ; Gilmore, KJ ; Kita, M ; Wagner, KK ; Higgins, MJ ; Moulton, SE ; Clark, GM ; Officer, DL ; Kapsa, RMI ; Wallace, GG (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2010-10-01)
    Conducting polymers provide suitable substrates for the in vitro study of excitable cells, including skeletal muscle cells, due to their inherent conductivity and electroactivity. The thiophene family of conducting polymers offers unique flexibility for tailoring of polymer properties as a result of the ease of functionalization of the parent monomer. This article describes the preparation of films and electrospun fibers from an ester-functionalized organic solvent-soluble polythiophene (poly-octanoic acid 2-thiophen-3-yl-ethyl ester) and details the changes in properties that result from post-polymerization hydrolysis of the ester linkage. The polymer films supported the proliferation and differentiation of both primary and transformed skeletal muscle myoblasts. In addition, aligned electrospun fibers formed from the polymers provided scaffolds for the guided differentiation of linearly aligned primary myotubes, suggesting their suitability as three-dimensional substrates for the in vitro engineering of skeletal muscle tissue.