Intracochlear optical stimulation has been suggested as an alternative approach to hearing prosthetics in recent years. This study investigated the properties of a near infrared laser (NIR) induced optoacoustic effect. Pressure recordings were performed at the external meatus of anaesthetized guinea pigs during intracochlear NIR stimulation. The sound pressure and power spectra were determined. The results were compared to multi unit responses in the inferior colliculus (IC). Additionally, the responses to NIR stimulation were compared to IC responses induced by intracochlear electric stimulation at the same cochlear position to investigate a potentially confounding contribution of direct neural NIR stimulation. The power spectra of the sound recorded at the external meatus (n = 7) had most power at frequencies below 10 kHz and showed little variation for different stimulation sites. The mean spike rates of IC units responding to intracochlear NIR stimulation (n = 222) of 17 animals were significantly correlated with the power of the externally recorded signal at frequencies corresponding to the best frequencies of the IC units. The response strength as well as the sound pressure at the external meatus depended on the pulse peak power of the optical stimulus. The sound pressure recorded at the external meatus reached levels above 70 dB SPL peak equivalent. In hearing animals a cochlear activation apical to the location of the fiber was found. The absence of any NIR responses after pharmacologically deafening and the comparison to electric stimulation at the NIR stimulation site revealed no indication of a confounding direct neural NIR stimulation. Intracochlear optoacoustic stimulation might become useful in combined electro-acoustic stimulation devices in the future.
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- Near infrared stimulation
- Optoacoustic effect
- Inferior colliculus
- Guinea pig