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System design and performance of a unilateral horizontal semicircular canal prosthesis

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2 Author(s)
Wangsong Gong ; Dept. of Otology & Laryngology, Harvard Med. Sch., Boston, MA, USA ; Merfeld, D.M.

We have reported preliminary results regarding a prototype semicircular canal prosthesis and concluded that it can provide rotational cues to the nervous system. This paper presents the system design of the prosthesis, and also reports the prosthesis system performance and effectiveness. The prosthesis delivers electrical pulses to the nerve branch innervating the horizontal semicircular canal on one side via implanted electrodes. To allow us to encode both directions of angular velocity, the baseline stimulation pulse frequency was set at 150 Hz, which is somewhat higher than the average firing rate of afferents innervating the semicircular canals in normal guinea pigs (∼ 60 Hz). A sensor measures angular velocity to modulate (increase or decrease) the pulse rate. The prosthetic system was provided to a guinea pig whose horizontal canals were surgically plugged. The animal responded to the baseline stimulation initially and adapted to the baseline stimulation in roughly one day. After this baseline adaptation the animal responded to yaw rotation, showing that the function of the canals was partially restored. The experiments also show that the nervous system adapts to the artificial rotational cue provided via electrical stimulation.

Published in:

Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 2 )