Spatial resolution of cochlear implants: the electrical field and excitation of auditory afferents

Hear Res. 1998 Jul;121(1-2):11-28. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(98)00061-6.


This paper investigates the spatial resolution of electrical intracochlear stimulation in order to enable further refinement of cochlear implants. For this purpose electrical potential distributions around a conventional human intracochlear electrode (NUCLEUS-22) were measured in a tank, in cat cadaver cochleae and in living cat cochleae. Potential gradients were calculated where of importance. The values were compared to spatial tuning curves from cat primary auditory afferents in electrical mono-, bi-, and various tripolar stimulation modes. Finally, a lumped element model was developed to elucidate the single fiber data. Tank potential measurements show the principal features of the different stimulation modes but are not sufficient to explain all the features of experimental data from single fibers. Intracochlear potential measurements indicate an increase in spatial resolution in an apical direction. The single fiber data also confirm that a tripolar stimulus configuration provides significantly better spatial resolution than any other stimulation mode presently in use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / physiology*