Desynchronization of electrically evoked auditory-nerve activity by high-frequency pulse trains of long duration

J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 Oct;114(4 Pt 1):2066-78. doi: 10.1121/1.1612492.


Rubinstein et al. [Hear. Res. 127, 108-118 (1999)] suggested that the neural representation of the waveforms of electric stimuli might be improved by introducing an ongoing, high-rate, desynchronizing pulse train (DPT). A DPT may desynchronize neural responses to electric stimulation in a manner similar to spontaneous activity in a healthy ear. To test this hypothesis, responses of auditory-nerve fibers (ANFs) to 10-min-long electric pulse trains (5 kpps) were recorded from acutely deafened, anesthetized cats. Stimuli were delivered via an intracochlear electrode, and their amplitude was chosen to elicit a response in most ANFs. Responses to pulse trains showed pronounced adaptation during the first 1-2 min, followed by either a sustained response or cessation of spike discharges for the remainder of the stimulus. The adapted discharge rates showed a broad distribution across the ANF population like spontaneous activity. However, a higher proportion of fibers (46%) responded to the DPT at rates below 5 spikes/s than for spontaneous activity, and 12% of the fibers responded at higher rates than any spontaneously active fiber. Interspike interval histograms of sustained responses for some fibers had Poisson-like (exponential) shapes, resembling spontaneous activity, while others exhibited preferred intervals and, occasionally, bursting. Simultaneous recordings from pairs of fibers revealed no evidence of correlated activity, suggesting that the DPT does desynchronize the auditory nerve activity. Overall, these results suggest that responses to an ongoing DPT resemble spontaneous activity in a normal ear for a substantial fraction of the ANFs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Cats
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cochlear Nerve / drug effects
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Deafness / chemically induced
  • Deafness / physiopathology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Kanamycin / toxicity
  • Loudness Perception / physiology
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted


  • Kanamycin