Channel Interaction During Infrared Light Stimulation in the Cochlea

Aditi Agarwal, Xiaodong Tan, Yingyue Xu, Claus Peter Richter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: The number of perceptually independent channels to encode acoustic information is limited in contemporary cochlear implants (CIs) because of the current spread in the tissue. It has been suggested that neighboring electrodes have to be separated in humans by a distance of more than 2 mm to eliminate significant overlap of the electric current fields and subsequent interaction between the channels. It has also been argued that an increase in the number of independent channels could improve CI user performance in challenging listening environments, such as speech in noise, tonal languages, or music perception. Optical stimulation has been suggested as an alternative modality for neural stimulation because it is spatially selective. This study reports the results of experiments designed to quantify the interaction between neighboring optical sources in the cochlea during stimulation with infrared radiation. Study Design/Materials and Methods: In seven adult albino guinea pigs, a forward masking method was used to quantify the interaction between two neighboring optical sources during stimulation. Two optical fibers were placed through cochleostomies into the scala tympani of the basal cochlear turn. The radiation beams were directed towards different neuron populations along the spiral ganglion. Optically evoked compound action potentials were recorded for different radiant energies and distances between the optical fibers. The outcome measure was the radiant energy of a masker pulse delivered 3 milliseconds before a probe pulse to reduce the response evoked by the probe pulse by 3 dB. Results were compared for different distances between the fibers placed along the cochlea. Results: The energy required to reduce the probe's response by 3 dB increased by 20.4 dB/mm and by 26.0 dB/octave. The inhibition was symmetrical for the masker placed basal to the probe (base-to-apex) and the masker placed apical to the probe (apex-to-base). Conclusion: The interaction between neighboring optical sources during infrared laser stimulation is less than the interaction between neighboring electrical contacts during electrical stimulation. Previously published data for electrical stimulation reported an average current spread in human and cat cochleae of 2.8 dB/mm. With the increased number of independent channels for optical stimulation, it is anticipated that speech and music performance will improve. Lasers Surg. Med.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-997
Number of pages12
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • channel interaction
  • cochlear implant
  • hearing
  • infrared stimulation
  • laser

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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