Contemporary cochlear implants deliver safe electrical stimulation of the cochlea under strict guidelines to minimize the release of toxic electrochemical byproducts and damage associated with metabolic stress of the stimulated neurons. However, the currently defined limits for cochlear implant stimulation are based on acute direct stimulation of the brain and likely significantly underestimate the true safe levels. This project will attempt to extend the safe stimulation levels using chronic stimulation studies, acute electrophysiological experiments and anatomical studies to determine the maximum safe stimulation levels.
This project will provide evidence that the safe stimulation levels for cochlear implants are significantly greater than those presently defined. This will enable the next generation of cochlear implants to use smaller electrodes and new stimulation strategies leading to improved clinical outcomes for cochlear implant users.