Temporal Considerations for Stimulating Spiral Ganglion Neurons with Cochlear Implants
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A wealth of knowledge about different types of neural responses to electrical stimulation has been developed over the past 100 years. However, the exact forms of neural response properties can vary across different types of neurons. In this review, we survey four stimulus-response phenomena that in recent years are thought to be relevant for cochlear implant stimulation of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs): refractoriness, facilitation, accommodation, and spike rate adaptation. Of these four, refractoriness is the most widely known, and many perceptual and physiological studies interpret their data in terms of refractoriness without incorporating facilitation, accommodation, or spike rate adaptation. In reality, several or all of these behaviors are likely involved in shaping neural responses, particularly at higher stimulation rates. A better understanding of the individual and combined effects of these phenomena could assist in developing improved cochlear implant stimulation strategies. We review the published physiological data for electrical stimulation of SGNs that explores these four different phenomena, as well as some of the recent studies that might reveal the biophysical bases of these stimulus-response phenomena.