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Coactivation of different neurons within an isofrequency lamina of the inferior colliculus elicits enhanced auditory cortical activation.
The phenomenal success of the cochlear implant (CI) is attributed to its ability to provide sufficient temporal and spectral cues for speech understanding. Unfortunately, the CI is ineffective for those without a functional auditory nerve or an implantable cochlea required for CI implementation. As an alternative, our group developed and implanted in deaf patients a new auditory midbrain implant (AMI) to stimulate the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC). Although the AMI can provide frequency cues, it appears to insufficiently transmit temporal cues for speech understanding. The three-dimensional ICC consists of two-dimensional isofrequency laminae. The single-shank AMI only stimulates one site in any given ICC lamina and does not exhibit enhanced activity (i.e., louder percepts or lower thresholds) for repeated pulses on the same site with intervals <2-5 ms, as occurs for CI pulse or acoustic click stimulation. This enhanced activation, related to short-term temporal integration, is important for tracking the rapid temporal fluctuations of a speech signal. Therefore, we investigated the effects of coactivation of different regions within an ICC lamina on primary auditory cortex activity in ketamine-anesthetized guinea pigs. Interestingly, our findings reveal an enhancement mechanism for integrating converging inputs from an ICC lamina on a fast scale (<6-ms window) that is compromised when stimulating just a single ICC location. Coactivation of two ICC regions also reduces the strong and long-term (>100 ms) suppressive effects induced by repeated stimulation of just a single location. Improving AMI performance may require at least two shanks implanted along the tonotopic gradient of the ICC that enables coactivation of multiple regions along an ICC lamina with the appropriate interstimulus delays.
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't