Electrically evoked compound action potentials (ECAPs) are widely used to study the excitability of the auditory nerve and stimulation properties in cochlear implant (CI) users. However, ECAP detection can be difficult and very subjective at near-threshold stimulation levels or in spread of excitation measurements. In this study, we evaluated the statistical properties of the background noise (BN) and the postaverage residual noise (RN) in ECAP measurements in order to determine an objective detection criterion. For the estimation of the BN and the RN, a method currently used in auditory brainstem response measurements was applied. The potential benefit of using weighted (Bayesian) averages was also examined. All estimations were performed with a set of approximately 360 ECAP measurements recorded from five human CI users of the CII or HiRes90K device (advanced bionics). Results demonstrated that the BN was normally distributed and the RN decreased according to the square root of the number of averages. No additional benefit was observed by using weighted averaging. The noise was not significantly different either at different stimulation intensities or across recording electrodes along the cochlea. The analysis of the statistical properties of the noise indicated that a signal-to-noise ratio of 1.7 dB as a detection criterion corresponds to a false positive detection rate of 1% with the used measurement setup.
- Cochlear implant (CI)
- electrically evoked compound action potential (ECAP)
- noise estimation