Effects of Electrode Location on Estimates of Neural Health in Humans with Cochlear Implants

Kara C. Schvartz-Leyzac, Timothy A. Holden, Teresa A. Zwolan, H. Alexander Arts, Jill B. Firszt, Christopher J. Buswinka, Bryan E. Pfingst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


There are a number of psychophysical and electrophysiological measures that are correlated with SGN density in animal models, and these same measures can be performed in humans with cochlear implants (CIs). Thus, these measures are potentially applicable in humans for estimating the condition of the neural population (so called “neural health” or “cochlear health”) at individual sites along the electrode array and possibly adjusting the stimulation strategy in the CI sound processor accordingly. Some measures used to estimate neural health in animals have included the electrically evoked compound potential (ECAP), psychophysical detection thresholds, and multipulse integration (MPI). With regard to ECAP measures, it has been shown that the change in the ECAP response as a function of increasing the stimulus interphase gap (“IPG Effect”) also reflects neural density in implanted animals. These animal studies have typically been conducted using preparations in which the electrode was in a fixed position with respect to the neural population, whereas in human cochlear implant users, the position of individual electrodes varies widely within an electrode array and also across subjects. The current study evaluated the effects of electrode location in the implanted cochlea (specifically medial-lateral location) on various electrophysiological and psychophysical measures in eleven human subjects. The results demonstrated that some measures of interest, specifically ECAP thresholds, psychophysical detection thresholds, and ECAP amplitude-growth function (AGF) linear slope, were significantly related to the distances between the electrode and mid-modiolar axis (MMA). These same measures were less strongly related or not significantly related to the electrode to medial wall (MW) distance. In contrast, neither the IPG Effect for the ECAP AGF slope or threshold, nor the MPI slopes were significantly related to MMA or MW distance from the electrodes. These results suggest that “within-channel” estimates of neural health such as the IPG Effect and MPI slope might be more suitable for estimating nerve condition in humans for clinical application since they appear to be relatively independent of electrode position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • cochlear implant
  • electrode placement
  • neural health


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