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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58189. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058189. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Behavioral and electrophysiological responses evoked by chronic infrared neural stimulation of the cochlea.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Infrared neural stimulation (INS) has been proposed as a novel method for neural stimulation. In order for INS to translate to clinical use, which would involve the use of implanted devices over years or decades, the efficacy and safety of chronic INS needs to be determined. We examined a population of cats that were chronically implanted with an optical fiber to stimulate the cochlea with infrared radiation, the first known chronic application of INS. Through behavioral responses, the cats demonstrate that stimulation occurs and a perceptual event results. Long-term stimulation did not result in a change in the electrophysiological responses, either optically-evoked or acoustically-evoked. Spiral ganglion neuron counts and post implantation tissue growth, which was localized at the optical fiber, were similar in chronically stimulated and sham implanted cochleae. Results from chronic INS experiments in the cat cochlea support future work toward INS-based neuroprostheses for humans.

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