Level coding by phase duration and asymmetric pulse shape reduce channel interactions in cochlear implants

Gunnar Lennart Quass, Peter Baumhoff, Dan Gnansia, Pierre Stahl, Andrej Kral

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Abstract

Conventional loudness coding with CIs by pulse current amplitude has a disadvantage: Increasing the stimulation current increases the spread of excitation in the auditory nerve, resulting in stronger channel interactions at high stimulation levels. These limit the number of effective information channels that a CI user can perceive. Stimulus intensity information (loudness) can alternatively be transmitted via pulse phase duration. We hypothesized that loudness coding by phase duration avoids the increase in the spread of the electric field and thus leads to less channel interactions at high stimulation levels. To avoid polarity effects, we combined this coding with pseudomonophasic stimuli. To test whether this affects the spread of excitation, 16 acutely deafened guinea pigs were implanted with CIs and neural activity from the inferior colliculus was recorded while stimulating with either biphasic, amplitude-coded pulses, or pseudomonophasic, duration- or amplitude-coded pulses. Pseudomonophasic stimuli combined with phase duration loudness coding reduced the lowest response thresholds and the spread of excitation. We investigated the channel interactions at suprathreshold levels by computing the phase-locking to a pulse train in the presence of an interacting pulse train on a different electrode on the CI. Pseudomonophasic pulses coupled with phase duration loudness coding reduced the interference by 4-5% compared to biphasic pulses, depending on the place of stimulation. This effect of pseudomonophasic stimuli was achieved with amplitude coding only in the basal cochlea, indicating a distance- or volume dependent effect. Our results show that pseudomonophasic, phase-duration-coded stimuli slightly reduce channel interactions, suggesting a potential benefit for speech understanding in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108070
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalHearing Research
Volume396
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Cochlear implants
  • Pulse symmetry
  • Loudness coding
  • Spread of excitation
  • Channel interactions

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