Effects of pulsatile electrical stimulation of the round window on central hyperactivity after cochlear trauma in guinea pig

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    © 2016 Elsevier B.V. Partial hearing loss induced by acoustic trauma has been shown in animal models to result in an increased spontaneous firing rate in central auditory structures. This so-called hyperactivity has been suggested to be involved in the generation of tinnitus, a phantom auditory sensation. Although there is no universal cure for tinnitus, electrical stimulation of the cochlea, as achieved by a cochlear implant, can result in significant reduction of the tinnitus percept. However, the mechanism by which this tinnitus suppression occurs is as yet unknown and furthermore cochlear implantation may not be an optimal treatment option for tinnitus sufferers who are not profoundly deaf. A better understanding of the mechanism of tinnitus suppression by electrical stimulation of the cochlea, may lead to the development of more specialised devices for those for whom a cochlear implant is not appropriate. This study aimed to investigate the effects of electrical stimulation in the form of brief biphasic shocks delivered to the round window of the cochlea on the spontaneous firing rates of hyperactive inferior colliculus neurons following acoustic trauma in guinea pigs. Effects during the stimulation itself included both inhibition and excitation but spontaneous firing was suppressed for up to hundreds of ms after the cessation of the shock train in all sampled hyperactive neurons. Pharmacological block of olivocochlear efferent action on outer hair cells did not eliminate the prolonged suppression observed in inferior colliculus neurons, and it is therefore likely that activation of the afferent pathways is responsible for the central effects observed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-137
    Number of pages10
    JournalHearing Research
    Early online date10 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


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