Auditory responses to electric and infrared neural stimulation of the rat cochlear nucleus
In an effort to improve the auditory brainstem implant, a prosthesis in which user outcomes are modest, we applied electric and infrared neural stimulation (INS) to the cochlear nucleus in a rat animal model. Electric stimulation evoked regions of neural activation in the inferior colliculus and short-latency, multipeaked auditory brainstem responses (ABRs). Pulsed INS, delivered to the surface of the cochlear nucleus via an optical fiber, evoked broad neural activation in the inferior colliculus. Strongest responses were recorded when the fiber was placed at lateral positions on the cochlear nucleus, close to the temporal bone. INS-evoked ABRs were multipeaked but longer in latency than those for electric stimulation; they resembled the responses to acoustic stimulation. After deafening, responses to electric stimulation persisted, whereas those to INS disappeared, consistent with a reported "optophonic" effect, a laser-induced acoustic artifact. Thus, for deaf individuals who use the auditory brainstem implant, INS alone did not appear promising as a new approach. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.