Laser stimulation of the auditory nerve

Agnella D. Izzo, Claus Peter Richter*, E. Duco Jansen, Joseph T. Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: For centuries, electric current has been used to stimulate neurons. Shortcomings of electrical stimulation include the contact between the stimulating electrode and the tissue, and the non-selective stimulation of the tissue. In contrast to electric stimulation, optical radiation can provide spatially selective neural stimulation without tissue contact. Study Design/Materials and Methods: Acute in vivo experiments using gerbils were conducted to record optically evoked compound action potentials (CAPs) from the cochlea. Results: Optical radiation evokes CAPs in normal hearing animals and in deafened animals, in which cochleae lack outer and inner hair cells. Stimulation threshold was measured as 0.018 ± 0.003 J/cm 2 (mean ± SE). Laser radiation could be increased by 30-40 dB until drastic changes were seen in cochlear function. Cochlear response amplitudes to optical radiation were stable over extended stimulation times. Conclusions: We have demonstrated that the auditory nerve can be stimulated by optical radiation. One potential clinical use of this technology would be for cochlear implants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-753
Number of pages9
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Cochlear implant
  • Neuroprosthesis
  • Optical stimulation
  • Spatial selectivity
  • Spiral ganglion cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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