Electric-acoustic interactions in the hearing cochlea: single fiber recordings

J. Tillein*, R. Hartmann, A. Kral

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigates interactions of simultaneous electric and acoustic stimulation in single auditory nerve fibers in normal hearing cats. First, the auditory nerve was accessed with a microelectrode and response areas of single nerve fibers were determined for acoustic stimulation. Second, response thresholds to extracochlear sinusoidal electric stimulation using ball electrodes positioned at the round window were measured. Third, interactions that occurred with combined electric-acoustic stimulation were investigated in two areas: (1) the spectral domain (frequency response areas) and (2) the temporal domain (phase-locking to each stimulus) at moderate stimulus intensities (electric: 6dB re threshold, acoustic: 20-40dB re threshold at the characteristic frequency, CF). For fibers responding to both modalities responses to both electric and acoustic stimulation could be clearly identified. CFs, thresholds, and bandwidth (Q10dB) of acoustic responses were not significantly affected by simultaneous electric stimulation. Phase-locking of electric responses decreased in the presence of acoustic stimulation. Indication for electric stimulation of inner hair cells with 125 and 250Hz were observed. However, these did not disturb the acoustic receptive fields of auditory nerve fibers. There was a trade-off between these responses when the intensities of the stimulation were varied: Relatively more intense stimulation dominated less intense stimulation. The scarcity of interaction between the different stimulus modalities demonstrates the ability of electric-acoustic stimulation to transfer useful information through both stimulation channels at the same time despite cochlear electrophonic effects. Application of 30Hz electric stimulation resulted in a strong suppression of acoustic activity in the anodic phase of the stimulus. An electric stimulation like this might thus be used to control acoustic responses.This article is part of a Special Issue entitled <Lasker Award>.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-126
Number of pages15
JournalHearing Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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