Direct Recordings from the Auditory Cortex in a Cochlear Implant User
Electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve with a cochlear implant (CI) is the method of choice for treatment of severe-to-profound hearing loss. Understanding how the human auditory cortex responds to CI stimulation is important for advances in stimulation paradigms and rehabilitation strategies. In this study, auditory cortical responses to CI stimulation were recorded intracranially in a neurosurgical patient to examine directly the functional organization of the auditory cortex and compare the findings with those obtained in normal-hearing subjects. The subject was a bilateral CI user with a 20-year history of deafness and refractory epilepsy. As part of the epilepsy treatment, a subdural grid electrode was implanted over the left temporal lobe. Pure tones, click trains, sinusoidal amplitude-modulated noise, and speech were presented via the auxiliary input of the right CI speech processor. Additional experiments were conducted with bilateral CI stimulation. Auditory event-related changes in cortical activity, characterized by the averaged evoked potential and event-related band power, were localized to posterolateral superior temporal gyrus. Responses were stable across recording sessions and were abolished under general anesthesia. Response latency decreased and magnitude increased with increasing stimulus level. More apical intracochlear stimulation yielded the largest responses. Cortical evoked potentials were phase-locked to the temporal modulations of periodic stimuli and speech utterances. Bilateral electrical stimulation resulted in minimal artifact contamination. This study demonstrates the feasibility of intracranial electrophysiological recordings of responses to CI stimulation in a human subject, shows that cortical response properties may be similar to those obtained in normal-hearing individuals, and provides a basis for future comparisons with extracranial recordings.
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