Spatial selectivity of neural stimulation with photons, such as infrared neural stimulation (INS) is higher than the selectivity obtained with electrical stimulation. To obtain more independent channels for stimulation in neural prostheses, INS may be implemented to better restore the fidelity of the damaged neural system. However, irradiation with infrared light also bares the risk of heat accumulation in the target tissue with subsequent neural damage. Lowering the threshold for stimulation could reduce the amount of heat delivered to the tissue and the risk for subsequent tissue damage. It has been shown in the rat sciatic nerve that simultaneous irradiation with infrared light and the delivery of biphasic sub-threshold electrical pulses can reduce the threshold for INS . In this study, deaf white cats have been used to test whether opto-electrical co-stimulation can reduce the stimulation threshold for INS in the auditory system too. The cochleae of the deaf white cats have largely reduced spiral ganglion neuron counts and significant degeneration of the organ of Corti and do not respond to acoustic stimuli. Combined electrical and optical stimulation was used to demonstrate that simultaneous stimulation with infrared light and biphasic electrical pulses can reduce the threshold for stimulation.
Communication among humans occurs through coding and decoding of acoustic information. The inner ear or cochlea acts as a frequency analyzer and divides the acoustic signal into small frequency bands, which are processed at different sites along the cochlea. The mechano-electrical conversion is accomplished by the soft tissue structures in the cochlea. While the anatomy for most of the cochlea has been well described, a detailed description of the very high frequency and vulnerable cochlear hook region is missing. To study the cochlear hook, mice cochleae were imaged with synchrotron radiation and high-resolution reconstructions have been made from the tomographic scans. This is the first detailed description of the bony and soft tissues of the hook region of the mammalian cochlea.
This study quantifies laser evoked pressure waves in small confined volumes such as a small dish or the cochlea. The pressure was measured with custom fabricated pressure probes in front of the optical fiber. For the pressure measurements during laser stimulation the probes were inserted into scala tympani or vestibuli. At 164 μJ/pulse, the intracochlear pressure was between 96 and 106 dB (re 20 μPa). The pressure was also measured in the ear canal with a sensitive microphone. It was on average 63 dB (re 20 μPa). At radiant energies large enough to evoke an auditory compound action potential, the outer ear canal equivalent pressure was 36-56 dB (re 20 μPa).
Many diseases trigger morphological changes in affected tissue. Today, classical histology is still the “gold standard”
used to study and describe those changes. Classical histology, however, is time consuming and requires chemical tissue
manipulations that can result in significant tissue distortions. It is sometimes difficult to separate tissue-processing
artifacts from changes caused by the disease process. We show that synchrotron X-ray phase-contrast micro-computed
tomography (micro-CT) can be used to examine non-embedded, hydrated tissue at a resolution comparable to that
obtained with classical histology. The data analysis from stacks of reconstructed micro-CT images is more flexible and
faster than when using the classical, physically embedded sections that are by necessity fixed in a particular orientation.
We show that in a three-dimensional (3D) structure with meticulous structural details such as the cochlea and the kidney,
micro-CT is more flexible, faster and more convenient for morphological studies and disease diagnoses.
Infrared neural stimulation (INS) is a method to depolarize neurons with infrared light. While consensus exists that heating of the target structure is essential, subsequent steps that result in the generation of an action potential are controversially discussed in the literature. The question of whether cochlear INS is an acoustic event has not been clarified. Results have been published that could be explained solely by an acoustic event. However, data exist that do not support an acoustical stimulus as the dominant factor in cochlear INS. We review the different findings that have been suggested for the mechanism of INS. Furthermore, we present the data that clarify the role of an acoustical event in cochlear INS. Masking experiments have been performed in hearing, hearing impaired, and severely hearing impaired animals. In normal hearing animals, the laser response could be masked by the acoustic stimulus. Once thresholds to acoustic stimuli were elevated, the ability to acoustically mask the INS response gradually disappeared. Thresholds for acoustic stimuli were significantly elevated in animals with compromised cochlear function, while the thresholds for optical stimulation remained largely unchanged. The results suggest that the direct interaction between the radiation and the target structure dominates cochlear INS.