Tissue resistivities determine the current flow in the cochlea

Alan Gerard Micco*, Claus Peter Richter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In individuals with severe to profound hearing loss, cochlear implants bypass normal inner ear function by applying electrical current directly into the cochlea, thereby stimulating cochlear nerve fibers. Stimulating discrete populations of spiral ganglion cells in cochlear implant users' ears is similar to the encoding of small acoustic frequency bands in a normal-hearing person's ear. Thus, spiral ganglion cells stimulated by an electrode convey the information contained by a small acoustic frequency band. Problems that refer to the current spread and subsequent nonselective stimulation of spiral ganglion cells in the cochlea are reviewed. RECENT FINDINGS: Cochlear anatomy and tissue properties determine the current path in the cochlea. Current spreads largely via scala tympani and across turns. While most of the current leaves the cochlea via the modiolus, the facial canal and the round window constitute additional natural escape paths for the current from the cochlea. Moreover, degenerative processes change tissue resistivities and thus may affect current spread in the cochlea. SUMMARY: Electrode design and coding strategies may result in more spatial stimulation of spiral ganglion cells, resulting in a better performance of the electrode-tissue interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-355
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Cochlear implants
  • Current spread
  • Electroanatomy
  • Tissue resistivities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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