Date: 22 Jun 2012

Monopolar Intracochlear Pulse Trains Selectively Activate the Inferior Colliculus

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Previous cochlear implant studies using isolated electrical stimulus pulses in animal models have reported that intracochlear monopolar stimulus configurations elicit broad extents of neuronal activation within the central auditory system—much broader than the activation patterns produced by bipolar electrode pairs or acoustic tones. However, psychophysical and speech reception studies that use sustained pulse trains do not show clear performance differences for monopolar versus bipolar configurations. To test whether monopolar intracochlear stimulation can produce selective activation of the inferior colliculus, we measured activation widths along the tonotopic axis of the inferior colliculus for acoustic tones and 1,000-pulse/s electrical pulse trains in guinea pigs and cats. Electrical pulse trains were presented using an array of 6–12 stimulating electrodes distributed longitudinally on a space-filling silicone carrier positioned in the scala tympani of the cochlea. We found that for monopolar, bipolar, and acoustic stimuli, activation widths were significantly narrower for sustained responses than for the transient response to the stimulus onset. Furthermore, monopolar and bipolar stimuli elicited similar activation widths when compared at stimulus levels that produced similar peak spike rates. Surprisingly, we found that in guinea pigs, monopolar and bipolar stimuli produced narrower sustained activation than 60 dB sound pressure level acoustic tones when compared at stimulus levels that produced similar peak spike rates. Therefore, we conclude that intracochlear electrical stimulation using monopolar pulse trains can produce activation patterns that are at least as selective as bipolar or acoustic stimulation.