Peripheral and central contributions to cortical responses in cochlear implant users

Rachel A. Scheperle, Paul J. Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The primary goal of this study was to describe relationships between peripheral and central electrophysiologic measures of auditory processing within individual cochlear implant (CI) users. The distinctiveness of neural excitation patterns resulting from the stimulation of different electrodes, referred to as "spatial selectivity," was evaluated. The hypothesis was that if central representations of spatial interactions differed across participants semi-independently of peripheral input, then the within-subject relationships between peripheral and central electrophysiologic measures of spatial selectivity would reflect those differences. Cross-subject differences attributable to processing central to the auditory nerve may help explain why peripheral electrophysiologic measures of spatial selectivity have not been found to correlate with speech perception. Design: Eleven adults participated in this and a companion study. All were peri-or post-lingually deafened with more than 1 year of CI experience. Peripheral spatial selectivity was evaluated at 13 cochlear locations using 13 electrodes as probes to elicit electrically evoked compound action potentials (ECAPs). Masker electrodes were varied across the array for each probe electrode to derive channel-interaction functions. The same 13 electrodes were used to evaluate spatial selectivity represented at a cortical level. Electrode pairs were stimulated sequentially to elicit the auditory change complex (ACC), an obligatory cortical potential suggestive of discrimination. For each participant, the relationship between ECAP channel-interaction functions (quantified as channelseparation indices) and ACC N1-P2 amplitudes was modeled using the saturating exponential function y = a (1-e-bx ). Both a and b coefficients were varied using a least-squares approach to optimize the fits. Results: Electrophysiologic measures of spatial selectivity assessed at peripheral (ECAP) and central (ACC) levels varied across participants. The results indicate that differences in ACC amplitudes observed across participants for the same stimulus conditions were not solely the result of differences in peripheral excitation patterns. This finding supports the view that processing at multiple points along the auditory neural pathway from the periphery to the cortex may vary across individuals with different etiologies and auditory experiences. Conclusions: The distinctiveness of neural excitation resulting from electrical stimulation varies across CI recipients, and this variability was observed in both peripheral and cortical electrophysiologic measures. The ACC amplitude differences observed across participants were partially independent from differences in peripheral neural spatial selectivity. These findings are clinically relevant because they imply that there may be limits (1) to the predictive ability of peripheral measures and (2) in the extent to which improving the selectivity of electrical stimulation via programming options (e.g., current focusing/steering) will result in more specific central neural excitation patterns or will improve speech perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
Number of pages11
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2015


  • Auditory change complex
  • Channel interaction
  • Channel-separation index
  • Cochlear implant
  • Electrically evoked compound action potential
  • Electrophysiology
  • Spatial selectivity


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