[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infrared neural stimulation (INS) has received considerable attention over the last few years. It provides an alternative method to artificially stimulate neurons without electrical current or the introduction of exogenous chromophores. One of the primary benefits of INS could be the improved spatial selectivity when compared with electrical stimulation. In the present study, we have evaluated the spatial selectivity of INS in the acutely damaged cochlea of guinea pigs and compared it to stimulation with acoustic tone pips in normal-hearing animals. The radiation was delivered via a 200 µm diameter optical fiber, which was inserted through a cochleostomy into the scala tympani of the basal cochlear turn. The stimulated section along the cochlear spiral ganglion was estimated from the neural responses recorded from the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC). ICC responses were recorded in response to cochlear INS using a multichannel penetrating electrode array. Spatial tuning curves (STCs) were constructed from the responses. For INS, approximately 55% of the activation profiles showed a single maximum, ∼22% had two maxima and ∼13% had multiple maxima. The remaining 10% of the profiles occurred at the limits of the electrode array and could not be classified. The majority of ICC STCs indicated that the spread of activation evoked by optical stimuli is comparable to that produced by acoustic tone pips.
Journal of Neural Engineering 08/2011; 8(5):056006. · 3.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lasers can be used to stimulate neural tissue, including the sciatic nerve or auditory neurons. Wells and coworkers suggested that neural tissue is likely stimulated by heat.[1,2] Ion channels that can be activated by heat are the TRPV channels, a subfamily of the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels. TRPV channels are nonselective cation channels found in sensory neurons involved in nociception. In addition to various chemicals, TRPV channels can also be thermally stimulated. The activation temperature for the different TRPV channels varies and is 43°C for TRPV1 and 39°C for TRPV3. By performing an immunohistochemical staining procedure on frozen 20 mum cochlear slices using a primary TRPV1 antibody, we observed specific immunostaining of the spiral ganglion cells. Here we show that in mice that lack the gene for the TRPV1 channel optical radiation cannot evoke action potentials on the auditory nerve.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In developing neural prostheses, particular success has been realized with cochlear implants. These devices bypass damaged hair cells in the auditory system and electrically stimulate the auditory nerve directly. In contemporary cochlear implants, however, the injected electric current spreads widely along the scala tympani and across turns. Consequently, stimulation of spatially discrete spiral ganglion cell populations is difficult. In contrast to electrical stimulation, it has been shown that extremely spatially selective stimulation is possible using infrared radiation (e.g. [Izzo, A.D., Su, H.S., Pathria, J., Walsh Jr., J.T., Whitlon, D.S., Richter, C.-P., 2007a. Selectivity of neural stimulation in the auditory system: a comparison of optic and electric stimuli. J. Biomed. Opt. 12, 1-7]). Here, we explore the correlation between surviving spiral ganglion cells, following acute and chronic deafness induced by neomycin application into the middle ear, and neural stimulation using optical radiation and electrical current. In vivo experiments were conducted in gerbils. Before the animals were deafened, acoustic thresholds were obtained and neurons were stimulated with optical radiation at various pulse durations, radiation exposures, and pulse repetition rates. In one group of animals, measurements were made immediately after deafening, while the other group was tested at least four weeks after deafening. Deafness was confirmed by measuring acoustically evoked compound action potentials. Optically and electrically evoked compound action potentials and auditory brainstem responses were determined for different radiation exposures and for different electrical current amplitudes, respectively. After completion of the experiments, the animals were euthanized and the cochleae were harvested for histology. Acoustically evoked compound action potential thresholds were elevated by more than 40 dB after neomycin application in acutely deaf and more than 60 dB in chronically deaf animals. Compound action potential thresholds, which were determined with optical radiation pulses, were not significantly elevated in acutely deaf animals. However, in chronically deaf animals optically evoked CAP thresholds were elevated. Changes correlated with the number of surviving spiral ganglion cells and the optical parameters that were used for stimulation.
Hearing Research 02/2008; 242(1-2):42-51. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether treating pneumococcal meningitis with a combined antibiotic and steroid regime will prevent cochlear damage, a common pneumococcal meningitis side effect.
Prospective animal study.
Gerbils were randomly assigned to three experimental groups. Animals in group 1 received intrathecal saline injections. Animals in groups 2 and 3 received intrathecal injections of Streptococcus pneumoniae to induce meningitis. Group 2 was treated for 7 days with intraperitoneal penicillin injections (48,000 units). Animals from group 3 received intraperitoneal dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg) injections for 4 days in addition to 7 days of intraperitoneal penicillin. Three months after the meningitis was induced, the animals' cochlear functions were determined using auditory brainstem responses (ABRs). After measuring cochlear function, the animals were sacrificed for cochlear histopathology. Spiral ganglion cell densities at Rosenthal's canal were determined.
ABR thresholds were significantly elevated in animals from group 2 when compared with the animals in groups 1 and 3 (P < .05). ABR thresholds for animals from group 3 and group 1 were similar (P > .05). Damage of cochlear structures was detected in animals from group 2. The degree of the damage varied: one animal in group 2 had no identifiable hair cells and pillar cells and showed damage of the tectorial membrane. Spiral ganglion density in the basal turn was significantly less in animals from group 2 when compared with controls (P < .05). Although spiral ganglion cell density was less in the dexamethasone-treated group (group 3) when compared with group 1 (control group), but greater than observed in animals treated with antibiotics only (group 2), the differences were statistically not significant (P > .5). Nuclear diameters of the spiral ganglion cells decreased on average from 7.24 +/- 0.48 microm (group 1) to 6.28 +/- 0.76 microm (group 3, animals that received dexamethasone) to 5.57 +/- 0.82 microm (group 2, animals that received antibiotics only). Differences were significant (P < .05). Differences in stria vascularis thickness were not significant among the animals.
Dexamethasone has a protective effect on the cochlea when given together with antibiotics in the treatment of pneumococcal meningitis.
The Laryngoscope 07/2007; 117(7):1209-15. · 1.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pulsed, mid-infrared lasers were recently investigated as a method to stimulate neural activity. There are significant benefits of optically stimulating nerves over electrically stimulating, in particular the application of more spatially confined neural stimulation. We report results from experiments in which the gerbil auditory system was stimulated by optical radiation, acoustic tones, or electric current. Immunohistochemical staining for the protein c-FOS revealed the spread of excitation. We demonstrate a spatially selective activation of neurons using a laser; only neurons in the direct optical path are stimulated. This pattern of c-FOS labeling is in contrast to that after electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation leads to a large, more spatially extended population of labeled, activated neurons. In the auditory system, optical stimulation of nerves could have a significant impact on the performance of cochlear implants, which can be limited by the electric current spread.
Journal of Biomedical Optics 01/2007; 12(2):021008. · 2.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is known that electrical current injected from cochlear implant contacts spreads within the cochlea, causing overlapping stimulation fields and possibly limiting the performance of cochlear implant users. We have investigated an alternative mechanism to stimulate auditory neurons in the gerbil cochlea using a laser, rather than electrical current. With the laser, it is possible to direct the light to a selected, known volume of tissue that is smaller than the electrically stimulated population of cells. In the present experiments, a transiently expressed transcription factor, c-FOS, was used to stain activated nerve cells. Immunohistochemical staining for c-FOS in the cochlea shows a small area of optical stimulation, which occurs directly opposite to the optical fiber. Additionally, masking data indicate that the laser can stimulate a small population of cells similar to an acoustic toneburst. Smaller populations of stimulated cells could reduce the amount of overlap in stimulation fields and allow more stimulation contacts in a neuroprothesis.