Rationale and objectives: The authors detect activation in the auditory cortex during cochlear electrical stimulation in deaf patients using functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.
Methods: Stimulating electrode was inserted gently under local anesthesia close to the round window membrane of the cochlea in seven cochlear implant candidates. These patients suffered from postlingual-acquired deafness. Four patients were stimulated above the electrical perception threshold and three below the electrical discomfort threshold. Functional scans (fast low-angle shot 91 mseconds/60 mseconds) were acquired in an oblique axial plane running parallel to the sylvian fissure. Four consecutive series of six images were obtained in 6 minutes. The acquisition time of each image was 15 seconds.
Results: During electrical cochlear stimulation below the discomfort threshold, the three patients described "auditory" sensations with activation of the superior temporal regions. In two patients with electrical stimulation of the left ear, the maximum signal intensity increased by 8.42% in the right auditory cortex and 5.69% in the left. In one patient with a right electrical stimulation only the left cortex was activated. Electrical cochlear stimulation above the perception threshold induces no significant activation in the auditory cortex.
Conclusion: Functioning MR imaging can detect activation in the auditory cortex during cochlear electrical stimulation in deaf patients using a conventional 1.5-tesla system in a routine hospital environment. Further studies are needed to investigate its usefulness in clinical practice.