In all commercial cochlear implant (CI) devices, the electric stimulation is performed with a rectangular pulse that generally has two phases of opposite polarity. To date, developing new stimulation strategies has relied on the efficacy of this shape. Here, we investigate the potential of a novel stimulation paradigm that uses biophysically-inspired electrical ramped pulses. Using electrically-evoked auditory brainstem response (eABR) recordings in mice, we found that less charge, but higher current level amplitude, is needed to evoke responses with ramped shapes that are similar in amplitude to responses obtained with rectangular shapes. The most charge-efficient pulse shape had a rising ramp over both phases, supporting findings from previous in vitro studies. This was also true for longer phase durations. Our study presents the first physiological data on CI-stimulation with ramped pulse shapes. By reducing charge consumption ramped pulses have the potential to produce more battery-efficient CIs and may open new perspectives for designing other efficient neural implants in the future.
Navntoft, C. A., Marozeau, J., & Barkat, T. R. (2020). Ramped pulse shapes are more efficient for cochlear implant stimulation in an animal model. Scientific Reports, 10(1), . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-60181-5