In multichannel cochlear implants (CIs), current is delivered to specific electrodes along the cochlea in the form of amplitude-modulated pulse trains, to convey temporal and spectral cues. Our previous studies have shown that focused multipolar (FMP) and tripolar (TP) stimulation produce more restricted neural activation and reduced channel interactions in the inferior colliculus (IC) compared with traditional monopolar (MP) stimulation, suggesting that focusing of stimulation could produce better transmission of spectral information. The present study explored the capability of IC neurons to detect modulated CI stimulation with FMP and TP stimulation compared with MP stimulation. The study examined multiunit responses of IC neurons in acutely deafened guinea pigs by systematically varying the stimulation configuration, modulation depth, and stimulation level. Stimuli were sinusoidal amplitude-modulated pulse trains (carrier rate of 120 pulses/s). Modulation sensitivity was quantified by measuring modulation detection thresholds (MDTs), defined as the lowest modulation depth required to differentiate the response of a modulated stimulus from an unmodulated one. Whereas MP stimulation showed significantly lower MDTs than FMP and TP stimulation (P values <0.05) at stimulation ≤2 dB above threshold, all stimulation configurations were found to have similar modulation sensitivities at 4 dB above threshold. There was no difference found in modulation sensitivity between FMP and TP stimulation. The present study demonstrates that current focusing techniques such as FMP and TP can adequately convey amplitude modulation and are comparable to MP stimulation, especially at higher stimulation levels, although there may be some trade-off between spectral and temporal fidelity with current focusing stimulation.
- cochlear implant
- multipolar stimulation
- current focusing
- modulation detection
- inferior colliculus
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