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New Findings on the Cochlear Amplifier and Report On Developments

for a Fully Implanted Cochlear Implant


Part 1: The cochlea is composed of a long, narrow strip of sensory tissue, surrounded by fluid and coiled inside a millimeter-sized, snail-shaped bone. A fluid-tissue wave transports sound energy along the cochlear spiral, with different sound frequencies peaking at different locations. Localized outer-hair-cell-based forces pump up the wave to increase the wave’s size and enhance its frequency resolution, and this increase and enhancement is termed the “cochlear amplifier”. We are working to understand how the cochlear amplifier activates at a particular location for a given frequency. These experiments have involved purpose-built fiber optic pressure sensors, and currently, phase sensitive optical coherence tomography.

Part 2: We have constructed a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) implantable microphone for detecting sound inside the cochlea, to be used as a component of a fully implanted cochlear implant. The devices have been tested on the bench and in gerbil and human temporal bones. This project is in collaboration with John Kymissis (Columbia EE) and research groups from MIT EE (Jeff Lang) and Harvard/Mass Eye and Ear (Heidi Nakajima).


Barnard College (of Columbia University), BA Physics 1981

MIT, PhD Physics 1988

Boston University, Biomedical Engineering post-doc 1988-1990 Rutgers University, New Jersey, Biology post-doc 1991-1993

Rutgers University, New Jersey, Physics Visiting Professor 1993-1995 Princeton University, Physics, research and teaching staff 1996-2001 Columbia University, Otolaryngology 2001-present (currently tenured Professor) Columbia University, Biomedical Eng. 2002-present (currently tenured Professor)

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