Skip to Main Content
One of the fundamental facets of the cochlear implant that must be understood to predict accurately the effect of an electrical stimulus on the auditory nerve is the nerve-electrode interface. One aspect of this interface is the degree to which current delivered by an electrode spreads to neurons distant from it. This paper reports a direct mapping of this current spread using recordings from single units from the cat auditory nerve. Large variations were seen in the degree to which the different units are selective in responding to electrodes at different positions within the scala tympani. Three types of units could be identified based on the selectiveness of their response to the different electrodes in a linear array. The first type of unit exhibited a gradual increase in threshold as the stimulating site was moved from more apical to more basal locations within the scala tympani. The second type of unit exhibited a sharp local minimum, with rapid increases in threshold in excess of 6 dB/mm in the vicinity of the minimum. At electrode sites distant from the local minima the rate of change of the threshold approached that of the first type of units. The final type of unit also demonstrated a gradual change in threshold with changing electrode position, however, two local minima, one apical and one basal, could be identified. These three types are hypothesized to correspond to units which originate apical to the electrode array, along the electrode array and basal to the electrode array.