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Viewing: ECE 505 : Neural Interface Engineering

Last approved: Tue, 04 Oct 2016 08:02:10 GMT

Last edit: Mon, 03 Oct 2016 15:43:17 GMT

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ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Neural Interface Engineering
Neural Interface Engineering
College of Engineering
Electrical & Computer Engineering (14ECE)
Term Offering
Fall Only
Offered Every Year
Fall 2017
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Prefix/NumberSemester/Term OfferedEnrollment
ECE 592-015Fall 201419
ECE 592-015Fall 201321
ECE 592-015Fall 20123
ECE 592-015Fall 201123
ECE 592-015Fall 20106
ECE 592-015Fall 201528
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Dr. Alper Bozkurt
Associate Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Lecture3030NoBased on earlier enrollments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Senior or graduate standing.
Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
This course investigates the engineering techniques to understand, repair, replace, or enhance neural systems. The topics to be covered includes the following: the history of bioelectricity phenomena, the basics of modern neuroscience in electrical engineering terms and models, design of functional electrical interfaces with the nervous system for stimulating and recording purposes, basics of electrochemistry development of various systems for neuroprosthetics and neurorobotics applications such as pacemakers, cochlear implants and neuroprosthetic limbs.

This course was developed as a special topics course (ECE 592.015) in 2010 for two reasons: (a) In 2010, the European Union started an initiative on brain studies. A brain initiative in the United States was expected to follow soon after that and announced in 2014. Therefore, a need arose for more engineers who knew how the brain works and how it could be interfaced for curing disorders and augmenting brain functions. (b) A quick survey of electrical and computer engineering students has revealed that these students demand courses that introduces biological subjects in an engineering-friendly manner as they may be lacking the necessary background (biology is not a required course for engineering freshman students as are chemistry or physics courses). It is, indeed, a fact that the principles used for explaining functions of neural systems have been borrowed from physics and electrical engineering. For example, Hodgkin and Huxley used a network of resistors and capacitors to describe the principles underlying the generation of action potentials, which brought them the Nobel Prize in 1963. In summary, (a) the market pull for more engineers interested in neural systems, and (b) the intellectual push recognizing the fact that the neural interfaces is very related to the electrical and computer engineering but missing in our curriculum were the main reasons for the development of ECE 592.015 which is ready to become a regular course. The course also attracted the attention of BME students to who are interested in electrical modelling of neural systems and development of biomedical instrumentation. Especially the technical description of how neural electrodes are engineered and fabricated and how these are combined with circuits to form systems have been the particular topics that is uniquely offered by this course and attracts the BME students. 

In more detail, the course is composed of three consecutive parts: (1) the first part of the course teaches how action potentials are generated and propagated on the axons and how these are processed in the synapses. Here, resistive/capacitive networks and analogies from signal processing architectures are used;.(2) during the second part, the students learn how to interface neurons to record and stimulate. This also covers how the charge in the metal conductors is transferred to tissue to create an electric field, and how this electric field interacts with the neurons based on the principles covered in the first third of the course. The students use computer simulations to mimic neurons in silico and understand the electric field distribution around implanted electrodes; (3) the third part provides the students with the various applications of these technologies where they learn about how various neural engineering devices are used in the research laboratories and in the medical world to improve and even save lives of people. The applications covered include cardiac pacemakers, deep brain stimulators, neuroprosthetic limbs, and cochlear and retinal implants. Students present research papers to their classmates and also write a final report about a technology about which they pick. This structure was liked by both ECE and BME students and none of the courses at NCSU provides all of these learning opportunities to the student. 


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories

Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.

b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?

List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.

List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)

Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.

Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.

List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.

College(s)Contact NameStatement Summary
College of EngineeringDr. Shawn GomezThere are no objections to ECE teaching this course.
College of SciencesDr. Jane LubischerSounds like a great course to me, and certainly doesn't overlap extensively with any of our courses. We should share with John and Heather, so they can share with students who take our Neurobiology course.
There are no additional resources required. I have been teaching this course as part of my normal course load since 2010.

The goal of this course is to provide a general overview and the necessary technical qualification to the student in order to solve basic design problems at the interface of living neural tissue and non-living constructs for biomedical applications.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of the semester, the students are expected to be at a level that they have adequate background to start (a) following the literature about neural interfaces for continuous learning and education, (b) performing research in any engineering laboratory on this topic, and (c) considering applying to jobs in industry related to the skills they develop during this course. To achieve this, the students are  supposed to be able to:

1. (related to basics of neuroscience) define, derive and use formulas modelling the generation and propagation of action potentials including the Hodgkin-Huxley experiments and model: describe the anatomy of the synapses and their function to excite or inhibit the post synaptic neurons;

2. (related to neural recording and stimulation) derive and describe the recorded extracellular potential in terms of membrane potential and current; categorize extracellular stimulation methods in terms of the way the energy is transferred and compare the technical properties of these; describe the response of the membrane to the stimulation by an applied extracellular current or voltage;

3. (related to neural engineering technologies) develop the equivalent circuit of a given electrode in tissue and the noise introduced on the signal by the electrode; categorize and compare various extracellular electrodes in terms of their practical use, develop equivalent circuits for different electrode types and calculate of the impedances and noise; compare the microfabrication/micromachining techniques for electrodes; develop the equivalent circuit model of the interface formed between tissue (electrolyte) and metal (electrode) and explain the electrochemical methods to assess the safety of the electrodes; 

4. (related to neural engineering applications) explain how recorded neuronal signals are processed electronically and describe the general block-diagram of circuits that is used to stimulate or record these neural signals; explain the working principles of retinal, cochlear and cortical implants, cardiac pacemakers, neuroprosthetic devices.  


Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
Schedule is attached with topics, time devoted to each topic and activity.

mlnosbis 8/11/2016: Suggest consultation with College of Sciences (Jo-Ann Cohen, because of ZO 588- Neurobiology. The course schedule should be on the syllabus, not a separate document.

ghodge 8/12/2016. Ask for consultation with COS. Edit syllabus to include: Student learning objectives (#3 from checklist); course schedule (#7) {material in syllabus does not match the additional attached schedule}; add statement on NCSU Policy Rules Regulations (#14). Send back to program for edits.

ghodge 8/22/2016. Revised syllabus. Add consultation. Ready for ABGS reviwers.

ABGS Reviewer Comments:
- Recommend that the abbreviated title for ECE 505 include spaces ("Neural Interface Engineering" rather than "NeuralInterfaceEngineering") for readability and to enable students to find the class should they search the catalog by keyword. RESOLVED.
dgyu (Wed, 21 Oct 2015 18:48:52 GMT): Rollback: Please reduce the number of Student Learning Outcomes. Align with syllabus.
lacartee (Thu, 26 May 2016 02:02:18 GMT): While there is some overlap with BME 425/525 Bioelectricity and this course, the overlap is not so great as to prevent students from benefitting from both courses. The course is a valuable addition to the offerings in this field.
rfillin (Thu, 26 May 2016 14:05:29 GMT): waiting for consult from Shawn Gomez of BME
reeves (Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:39:07 GMT): No suggestions, looks very interesting
aybozkur (Mon, 15 Aug 2016 17:41:42 GMT): The syllabus was updated with the recommended edits by the reviewers and Prof. Jo-Ann Cohen was contacted as advised.
rfillin (Thu, 18 Aug 2016 16:11:42 GMT): Consult with COS was added.
Key: 7195