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AMME5951: Fundamentals of Neuromodulation (2018 - Semester 1)

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Unit: AMME5951: Fundamentals of Neuromodulation (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Aerospace, Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Boughton, Philip
Session options: Semester 1
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: Implantable microelectronic devices functioning either as nerve stimulators or nerve blockers comprise one of the largest markets in the global medical device industry. The aim of this unit of study is to give students a complete overview of the underlying technology (microelectronics, encapsulation biomaterials, electrode biomaterials, electrode-neural interactions, inductive power systems and data links, signal processing) and an expert review of the major technological applications on the market, which include Cochlear implants, pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, deep brain stimulators, pain control nerve blockers, bionic eye implants, functional electrical stimulation systems. The unit will also review emerging applications such as gastrointestinal disorders, obesity; vagal nerve stimulation - epilepsy, depression, carotid artery stimulation – hypertension, spinal cord stimulation - ischemic disorders, angina, peripheral vascular disease, incontinence, erectile dysfunction. The unit will conclude with a snapshot of the future: “brain on a chip” progress, nerve regrowth, neurotropins, drug/device combinations. This is a Master of Professional Engineering Unit of Study intended for biomedical engineering students with an interest in working in the medical device industry in the large market sector area of implantable electronic devices.
Assumed Knowledge: ELEC1103 or equivalent, (MECH2901 OR AMME9901), and (MECH3921 or AMME5921)
Lecturer/s: Prof Carter, Paul
Timetable: AMME5951 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 3.00 13
2 Independent Study 5.00 13
T&L Activities: The unit will be structured around the major elements of neuromodulation, the underlying technology and the applications current and future. The primary teaching delivery method will be lectures, including a weekly quiz on the previous week’s lecture. Each student will also do an independent research project. There will be 3 hours of lectures per week. Another 5 hours per week outside of formal contact hours will be needed in order to successfully complete assignments and study.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
The primary purpose of this unit is to build on the engineering and science fundamentals that the students already have (electronics, biology, chemistry, materials science, and engineering design) and apply them to the engineering specialisation of neuromodulation. Specific skills will be bioelectronics, neuroscience and neuro-engineering, implantable medical device technology using implantable medical devices. Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 5)
Techniques methods and tools will be acquired for analyzing the complex mathematical, neurobiological, and electronic analysis underlying the function of neuromodulation devices and their interaction with the human neural system. Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
Individual research project on an aspect of neuromodulation. Information Seeking (Level 3)
Students will develop this attribute through writing a report and preparing a poster from the research project on an aspect of neuromodulation. Communication (Level 4)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 5)
1. Evaluate the electrode-neural tissue interaction induced by implantable neuromodulation devices.
2. Solve the problems involving the inductive power and data transfer systems underlying implantable neuromodulation devices.
3. Apply the microelectronics principles for implantable neuromodulation devices.
4. Address the biomaterials principles in implantable neuromodulation devices.
5. Develop expertise and research skills in implantable neuromodulation devices in current use and potential future use.
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
6. Apply mathematical formulae to model the process of neuromodulation devices
7. Apply investigative methods and model for neuromodulation problems
Communication (Level 4)
8. Develop ability to interpret and discuss the relevant issues to neuromodulation devices
9. Discuss the uncertainty involved in tissues and implanted neuromodulation devices
Information Seeking (Level 3)
10. Develop ability of determining information requirements
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Assignment 1 * No 30.00 Week 13 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8,
2 Poster Presentation * No 30.00 Week 13 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10,
3 Written Exams No 40.00 Multiple Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10,
Assessment Description: Written exams: 10 closed-book quizzes, 15 minutes each, will be held in weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 respectively, based on the lecture material of the previous weeks. These quiz marks in total will comprise 40% of the course assessment.

An individual research report (Week 13) and Individual Poster Presentation (Week13): Students will be given individual topics related to neuromodulation early in the semester. They will be required to research the topic, prepare a 5 page research reports (single spaced 12 point arial font, references and appendices are in addition to the 5 pages), and prepare an individual poster presentation and attend and discuss their poster at a poster session to be held at Cochlear’s Headquarters at 1 University Drive, Macquarie University. As an industry outreach event for the students, Cochlear and other staff will be invited to attend the session, and discuss the posters with the students. The poster (30%) and research report (30%) will be marked by the course teaching team and the in-session exam/quiz marks will comprise 40% of the entire course assessment.

The ten 15 minute quizzes are equivalent to a 3 hour examination. There is no final examination.

Note: Reports will be required to be adequately referenced and acknowledged according to the academic honesty policy linked to below. Text-matching software used for detecting plagiarism will be employed.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: POLICY LISTING:

See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.


Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
Note on Resources: There is no set textbook for this unit. Lecture notes will be supplied each week.

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Demonstration practical: Stimulator and skin patch electrodes.
Introduction to individual research projects.

The need, the market, basics of nerve stimulation, nerve stimulators and nerve blockers. Review of the major neuromodulation systems on the market today and course overview.

Electroneural Theory: Transmission of action potentials, Practical aspects of nerve stimulation, Case studies.

Electrodes: Electrode basics, Circuit models, Safe stimulation, Smaller electrodes, The future.

Device Verification methods, Examples of Cochlear field issues which have led to design improvements, Biofilm risk reduction

History, Device and implantable battery manufacturers, Battery brush-up

Implantable batteries: (1) Pacemakers: Li / I2 -PVP (2) Defibrillators: Li / SVO– (3) Neurostimulators: Li-ion

Regulatory, Transportation, Characterization
Demonstration: High charge density stimulation in saline.

Electric Circuit Fundamentals: Circuit variables, Circuit laws, Electronic components, Circuit analysis, Analogue circuits, Logic variables Digital gates, Digital circuits,

Circuits for Implantable Simulators: Implantable electronic systems, Microelectronics. Types of circuits for implantable stimulators: Digital circuits, Stimulator circuits, Measurement circuits, Data acquisition circuits, Power circuits, Communication circuits

History of the research, what it does, how it works. Etiologies and recipient candidature. Clinical trials underway and results so far, the Australian initiative.

Major design considerations: system architecture, key system blocks, key technologies. Ways in which they can fail, what happens when they do, safety considerations. Future directions.
Week 7 Review of progress – student poster projects.

Hearing and Hearing Loss, How Cochlear Implants work, The Cochlear Implant system, Cochlear Implant Surgery, Clinical Considerations, New products, Future technologies

Introduction to digital signal processing, basic methods in DSP, Fourier and other frequency domain transforms, filters, signal processing. Introduction to speech – spectral vs. time domain representation, examples of speech signals.

The signal path - gain control and dynamic range, beam forming, time to frequency transformation, peak picking, channel selection.

Different stimulation algorithms – F0, F0/F1, Multipeak, SPEAK, CIS, ACE, research algorithms. The future – auditory scene analysis, noise reduction, vocoders.
Week 13 NEUROMODULATION SYMPOSIUM: Student project poster presentations at Cochlear Ltd.
Assessment Due: Assignment 1 *
Assessment Due: Poster Presentation *

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Biomedical Engineering / Law 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Arts 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Commerce 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Medical Science 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Project Management 2014
Biomedical Engineering / Science 2014
Biomedical Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical / Arts 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical / Commerce 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical / Medical Science 2015, 2016, 2017
Biomedical / Music Studies 2016, 2017
Biomedical / Project Management 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical /Science 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical / Science (Health) 2018
Biomedical - Chemical and Biomolecular Major 2015
Biomedical - Electrical Major 2015
Biomedical - Information Technology Major 2015
Biomedical / Law 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical - Mechanical Major 2015
Biomedical - Mechatronics Major 2015
Graduate Diploma in Health Technology Innovation 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Engineering (2024 and earlier) 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Health Technology Innovation 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Biomedical) 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Mechanical) 2013

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 5) Yes 57%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3) Yes 19%
Communication (Level 4) Yes 17%
Information Seeking (Level 3) Yes 7%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.