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The Coding Of Sound By A Cochlear Prosthesis: An Introductory Signal Processing Lab

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

BME Laboratory and Project Experiences

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1214.1 - 15.1214.8



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Paper Authors

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Pamela Bhatti Georgia Institute of Technology


Jessica Falcone Georgia Institute of Technology

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Jessica Falcone graduated from the BME undergraduate program at Georgia Tech in 2009. She is currently pursuing a masters in Electrical Engineering in the School of ECE at Georgia Tech with an emphasis on signal processing and advanced cochlear electrode arrays.

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James McClellan Georgia Institute of Technology

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Coding of Sound by a Cochlear Prosthesis: An Introductory Signal Processing Lab


An innovative and pedagogically appealing real-world application—a cochlear implant signal processor—forms the substrate for a laboratory exercise in design, simulation, and qualitative assessment of an engineering problem. In an introductory signal processing course, students are able to write MATLAB code that mimics the operation of a cochlear implant signal processor in which sound information is extracted and then coded for input to a neural stimulator. Fundamental concepts such as sampling continuous-time signals, discrete-time filter design, filter banks, envelope detection, spectrograms and signal reconstruction are explored and formalized in different parts of this project. To promote interaction across disciplines, the students work in randomly assigned teams of two that often pair up Biomedical Engineering (BME) students with Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students. For many students, the lab presents the first exposure to a collaborative engineering design effort, in contrast to the common independent exercise of tackling a “tough homework problem.” Although this laboratory project is quite challenging, it was well liked by the diverse population of BME and ECE students. Efforts are underway to integrate an online post-lab survey during the upcoming term to enable a more quantitative means of assessment. In addition, to provide free international access, the laboratory will be disseminated on the Connexions educational website.

1. Introduction

At the Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) an introductory signal processing course is required for all electrical engineering, computer engineering and biomedical engineering undergraduates. To provide this foundational material early on in the undergraduate curriculum1, the course is presented in the sophomore year for ECE students and often taken during the final two years for BME students. Basic integral calculus, linear algebra, familiarity with complex numbers, and MATLAB (MathWorks, Natick, MA) programming experience are the pre- requisites. This rigorous semester-long course consists of three main instructional components: (1) a faculty led bi-weekly lecture, (2) a faculty led weekly recitation section, and (3) a weekly laboratory section co-led by a faculty member and graduate student teaching assistants. Both the recitation and laboratory enrollment is limited to 20 to enhance the level of faculty-student contact during the labs and recitations. The weekly laboratory exercises consist of a simple pre-lab that the students are to complete on their own, a structured in-lab warm-up section examined by the lab staff, and a more in-depth exercise/project completed by the students outside of the lab section in teams of two. These projects require a lab report which is sometimes a formal report as in the case of the Cochlear Implant Lab (CI Lab). Although the labs have been crafted to build upon and reinforce fundamental concepts presented in the lecture, many students must work hard to integrate the theory from the recitations and lectures with the practical implementations required in the labs. Historically, students often view the material in other signal processing courses as very mathematical and sometimes struggle to see where it can be applied. Labs such as the CI Lab address that shortcoming, and, with 30-40% of the student population coming from the

Bhatti, P., & Falcone, J., & McClellan, J. (2010, June), The Coding Of Sound By A Cochlear Prosthesis: An Introductory Signal Processing Lab Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16299

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