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J Vis Exp. 2012 Jun 6;(64):e3598. doi: 10.3791/3598.

Behavioral determination of stimulus pair discrimination of auditory acoustic and electrical stimuli using a classical conditioning and heart-rate approach.

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1
School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University.

Abstract

Acute animal preparations have been used in research prospectively investigating electrode designs and stimulation techniques for integration into neural auditory prostheses, such as auditory brainstem implants and auditory midbrain implants. While acute experiments can give initial insight to the effectiveness of the implant, testing the chronically implanted and awake animals provides the advantage of examining the psychophysical properties of the sensations induced using implanted devices. Several techniques such as reward-based operant conditioning, conditioned avoidance, or classical fear conditioning have been used to provide behavioral confirmation of detection of a relevant stimulus attribute. Selection of a technique involves balancing aspects including time efficiency (often poor in reward-based approaches), the ability to test a plurality of stimulus attributes simultaneously (limited in conditioned avoidance), and measure reliability of repeated stimuli (a potential constraint when physiological measures are employed). Here, a classical fear conditioning behavioral method is presented which may be used to simultaneously test both detection of a stimulus, and discrimination between two stimuli. Heart-rate is used as a measure of fear response, which reduces or eliminates the requirement for time-consuming video coding for freeze behaviour or other such measures (although such measures could be included to provide convergent evidence). Animals were conditioned using these techniques in three 2-hour conditioning sessions, each providing 48 stimulus trials. Subsequent 48-trial testing sessions were then used to test for detection of each stimulus in presented pairs, and test discrimination between the member stimuli of each pair. This behavioral method is presented in the context of its utilisation in auditory prosthetic research. The implantation of electrocardiogram telemetry devices is shown. Subsequent implantation of brain electrodes into the Cochlear Nucleus, guided by the monitoring of neural responses to acoustic stimuli, and the fixation of the electrode into place for chronic use is likewise shown.

PMID:
22710937
PMCID:
PMC3476383
DOI:
10.3791/3598
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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