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New generation auditory brainstem implants: a study of optogenetic and conformable electrical array technology
18 April 2018 (online)
The auditory brainstem implant (ABI) bypasses the auditory periphery to electrically stimulate the cochlear nucleus and provides sound perception in pediatric and adult patients who do not qualify cochlear implant (CI) surgery. However, ABI outcomes continue to lag behind CI outcomes for reasons that are not fully understood. Most ABI users achieve sound awareness that enhances lip-reading but only a few patients achieve open set speech perception. We hypothesize that limited ABI performance can be linked to broad electrical current spread and unfocused activation along the tonotopic axis of the cochlear nucleus. This fundamental limitation might be circumvented if light is used to activate brainstem neurons rather than electrical current and conformable rather than rigid surface electrode arrays are used to improve the electrode/tissue interface.
Data from acute and chronic studies of our novel ABI animal model, using a conformable ABI electrode.
We will demonstrate 1) optogenetic control of central auditory pathways is feasible, 2) fast opsins can be driven with pulsed light in vivo with spatio-temporal precision, 3) optogenetic auditory implants are perceptually salient, and 4) conformable electrical surface arrays improve performance over rigid designs.
We developed a novel optogenetic auditory implant for activation of auditory brainstem neurons and restoration of auditory circuits.
No conflict of interest has been declared by the author(s).