Locus coeruleus activity improves cochlear implant performance

Cochlear implants (CIs) are neuroprosthetic devices that can provide hearing to deaf people. Despite the benefits offered by CIs, the time taken for hearing to be restored and perceptual accuracy after long-term CI use remain highly variable. CI use is believed to require neuroplasticity in the central auditory system, and differential engagement of neuroplastic mechanisms might contribute to the variability in outcomes. Despite extensive studies on how CIs activate the auditory system, the understanding of CI-related neuroplasticity remains limited.
One potent factor enabling plasticity is the neuromodulator noradrenaline from the brainstem locus coeruleus (LC). Here we examine behavioural responses and neural activity in LC and auditory cortex of deafened rats fitted with multi-channel CIs. Adequate engagement of central neuromodulatory systems is thus a potential clinically relevant target for optimizing neuroprosthetic device use.
Author(s) Source
Glennon E Valtcheva S, Zhu A, et al. Nature volume 613, pages317–323 (2023),
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