Intralaminar stimulation of the inferior colliculus facilitates frequency-specific activation in the auditory cortex Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: Auditory midbrain implants (AMI) provide inadequate frequency discrimination for open set speech perception. AMIs that can take advantage of the tonotopic laminar of the midbrain may be able to better deliver frequency specific perception and lead to enhanced performance. Stimulation strategies that best elicit frequency specific activity need to be identified. This research examined the characteristic frequency (CF) relationship between regions of the auditory cortex (AC), in response to stimulated regions of the inferior colliculus (IC), comparing monopolar, and intralaminar bipolar electrical stimulation. APPROACH: Electrical stimulation using multi-channel micro-electrode arrays in the IC was used to elicit AC responses in anaesthetized male hooded Wistar rats. The rate of activity in AC regions with CFs within 3 kHz (CF-aligned) and unaligned CFs was used to assess the frequency specificity of responses. MAIN RESULTS: Both monopolar and bipolar IC stimulation led to CF-aligned neural activity in the AC. Altering the distance between the stimulation and reference electrodes in the IC led to changes in both threshold and dynamic range, with bipolar stimulation with 400 µm spacing evoking the lowest AC threshold and widest dynamic range. At saturation, bipolar stimulation elicited a significantly higher mean spike count in the AC at CF-aligned areas than at CF-unaligned areas when electrode spacing was 400 µm or less. Bipolar stimulation using electrode spacing of 400 µm or less also elicited a higher rate of elicited activity in the AC in both CF-aligned and CF-unaligned regions than monopolar stimulation. When electrodes were spaced 600 µm apart no benefit over monopolar stimulation was observed. Furthermore, monopolar stimulation of the external cortex of the IC resulted in more localized frequency responses than bipolar stimulation when stimulation and reference sites were 200 µm apart. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings have implications for the future development of AMI, as a bipolar stimulation strategy may improve the ability of implant users to discriminate between frequencies.

publication date

  • August 1, 2013