First Fall 2005 Frontiers of Science lecture explores cochlear implants, Sept. 21
First Fall 2005 Frontiers of Science lecture explores cochlear implants, Sept. 21September 15, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
To inform people about recent advances in science and stimulate thought and discussion about the moral, ethical and societal implications of such advances, the Department of Science Teaching is presenting the Fall 2005 Frontiers of Science lecture series.
The first of three lectures scheduled for this semester is “Cochlear Implants: Bringing Sound to the Profoundly Deaf,” with Robert L. Smith, director of the Institute for Sensory Research and a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at SU. Smith will explain how cochlear implants work and discuss their successes and shortcomings, as well as introducing the deaf community’s views of them. These views will also be discussed by Michael A. Schwartz, assistant professor of law and director of the Public Interest Law Firm in the SU College of Law; Schwartz is a member of the deaf community. The lecture will take place from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Gifford Auditorium.
“The success of cochlear implants seems nearly miraculous, given the limitations on our knowledge of how the normal auditory system works. Their usefulness is a testament both to the creativity of the biomedical researchers who developed them, and to the plasticity and adaptability of the human brain, which can learn to utilize them so effectively,” says Smith. “However, there remains much in the way of needed improvements, including more successful performance in noisy environments, greater dynamic operating range and improved music appreciation. Our research is aimed toward helping to solve these remaining problems.”
Cochlear implants are bionic interfaces with the auditory nervous system and provide electronic hearing for 100,000 users worldwide, including children younger than 1. There are now 350 clinical implant centers in the US, including two in Syracuse.
The implants bypass the acoustic pathway to the inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. They only provide limited information compared to the normal auditory system. However, they provide enough information for the listener to correctly interpret and perceive many environmental sounds, including speech, when heard in favorable environments.
Discussion of cochlear implants will continue on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with a presentation by Raymond Goldsworthy at the Institute for Sensory Research (ISR) classroom at noon on the topic: “Noise Reduction for Cochlear Implant Users.” Goldsworthy is a cochlear implant user and a graduate of the Harvard-MIT Hearing Research Program, where he recently defended his dissertation entitled: “Noise Reduction Algorithms and Performance Metrics for Improving Speech Reception in Noise by Cochlear-Implant Users.” For more information, contactSmith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to working to improve cochlear implants, Smith’s research interests include the encoding and processing of information by the auditory nervous system; mathematical modeling and systems analysis of the auditory system; and comparisons between the auditory system and other sensory systems. Smith recently completed a sabbatical studying cochlear implants at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, Calif.
This fall’s Frontiers of Science lineup also includes, “Attract and Kill: A New Era for Insect Pheromones?” with Professor Francis Webster, of the chemistry department in the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, on Oct. 5; and “Genetically Modified Foods: The Solution or the Problem?” with Associate Professor Ramesh Raina SU’s biology department, on Nov. 9.
The Frontiers of Science Lecture Series is sponsored by the departments of science teaching, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and electrical engineering and computer science; the College of Arts and Sciences; The Renee Crown Honors Program; the L.C. Smith College ofEngineering and Computer Science; the School of Education; the Study Council at SU; the Office of the Dean at Hendricks Chapel; ESF; and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
For more information on this lecture and the series, contact the Department of Science Teaching at 443-2586.