Auditory neuron responses to electrical stimulation from a bionic ear

Principal investigators – A/Prof James FallonProf Robert ShepherdDr Andrew Wise

Collaborating investigator – Dr Ian Bruce


The bionic ear works by electrically activating auditory neurons within the cochlea.

The electrode array of the bionic ear is inserted into the cochlea and contains many electrode contacts that can activate the auditory neurons (Figure A and B). However, little is known about how the individual auditory neurons respond to the signals from the electrode array and how extended periods of deafness may influence the ability of the neurons to provide sound information.

Our research

In this project we are examining the activity from auditory neurons (Figure C – green spikes) in response to electrical stimulation from a bionic ear (Figure C – gray lines).

We have examined the ability of auditory neurons to provide information that is related to the pitch of incoming sounds by measuring the overall responses of the neurons to electrical stimuli delivered to the individual electrode contacts (Figure D, yellow – large response; black – no response).

The results from these experiments provide important information necessary in designing the next generation of bionic ears.


This research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health (HHS-N-263-2007-00053-C)

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