Cochlear optogenetics – spectral selectivity

Near physiological spectral selectivity of cochlear optogenetics
Cochlear implants (CIs) electrically stimulate spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) and partially restore hearing to half a million CI users. However, wide current spread from intracochlear electrodes limits spatial selectivity (i.e. spectral resolution) of electrical CIs. Optogenetic stimulation might become an alternative, since light can be confined in space, promising artificial sound encoding with increased spectral selectivity. Here we compare spectral selectivity of optogenetic, electric, and acoustic stimulation by multi-channel recordings in the inferior colliculus (IC) of gerbils. When projecting light onto tonotopically distinct SGNs, we observe corresponding tonotopically ordered IC activity. An activity-based comparison reveals that spectral selectivity of optogenetic stimulation is indistinguishable from acoustic stimulation for modest intensities. Moreover, optogenetic stimulation outperforms bipolar electric stimulation at medium and high intensities and monopolar electric stimulation at all intensities. In conclusion, we demonstrate better spectral selectivity of optogenetic over electric SGN stimulation, suggesting the potential for improved hearing restoration by optical CIs.
Author(s)Source
Dieter A, Duque-Afonso CJ, Rankovic V, Jeschke M, Moser TNature Communications, vol 10, Article number: 1962 (2019), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09980-7
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