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Bionic pioneer explores how we’re wired for sound

Prof Graeme Clark changed the way we thought about hearing when he gave Rod Saunders the first cochlear implant in 1978—now he might just do it again.

3-D reconstruction of the left implanted cochlea in the brain of Rod Saunders. Credit: G. Clark; J.C.M. Clark.; M. Clarke; P. Nielsen- NICTA & Dept Otolaryngology, Melbourne University

Back then, Graeme brought together a team of engineers and medical personnel; now he’s trying to reveal exactly how the brain is wired for sound—by bringing together software specialists and experts on materials that can interface with the brain.

“We’re aiming to get closer to ‘high fidelity’ hearing for those with a cochlear implant,” says Graeme, now distinguished researcher at NICTA and laureate professor emeritus at the University of Melbourne. “This would mean they could enjoy the subtlety of music or the quiet hum of a dinner party.”

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