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The auditory brainstem implant (ABI) is an auditory neuroprosthesis that provides hearing to deaf patients by electrically stimulating the cochlear nucleus (CN) of the brainstem. Whether such stimulation activates one or the other of the CN's two major subdivisions is not known. Here, we demonstrate clear response differences from the stimulation of the dorsal (D) vs. ventral (V) subdivisions of the CN in a mouse model of the ABI with a surface-stimulating electrode array. For the DCN, low levels of stimulation evoked multiunit responses in the inferior colliculus (IC) that were unimodally distributed with early latencies (avg. peak latency of 3.3 ms). However, high levels of stimulation evoked a bimodal distribution with the addition of a late latency response peak (avg. peak latency of 7.1 ms). For the VCN, in contrast, electrical stimulation elicited multiunit responses that were usually unimodal and had a latency similar to the DCN's late response. Local field potentials (LFP) from the IC showed components that correlated with early and late multiunit responses. Surgical cuts to sever the output of the DCN, the dorsal acoustic stria (DAS), gave insight into the origin of these early and late responses. Cuts eliminated early responses but had little-to-no effect on late responses. The early responses thus originate from cells that project through the DAS, such as DCN's pyramidal and giant cells. Late responses likely arise from the spread of stimulation from a DCN-placed electrode array to the VCN and could originate in bushy and/or stellate cells. In human ABI users, the spread of stimulation in the CN may result in abnormal response patterns that could hinder performance. © 2022. The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Association for Research in Otolaryngology.


Stephen McInturff, Florent-Valéry Coen, Ariel E Hight, Osama Tarabichi, Vivek V Kanumuri, Nicolas Vachicouras, Stéphanie P Lacour, Daniel J Lee, M Christian Brown. Comparison of Responses to DCN vs. VCN Stimulation in a Mouse Model of the Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI). Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO. 2022 Jun;23(3):391-412

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PMID: 35381872

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