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Investigation of modeled potential distributions inside the electrically stimulated cochlea
Chilian A. , Kátai A. , Harczos T. , Husar P.
Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, Ilmenau, Germany, 2Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Biomedical
Engineering and Informatics, Faculty of Computer Science and Automation, Ilmenau, Germany, 3Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute
for Media Technology, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Ilmenau, Germany
One objective in current cochlear implant (CI) research is to improve signal transmission between CI electrodes
and stimulated nerve cells. For this purpose deeper knowledge about the effects of electrical stimulation inside
the complex geometry of the cochlea is required. However, experimental investigations are impeded by the small
dimensions of the cochlea. Therefore, models of the electrically stimulated cochlea are a more feasible option.
We developed a virtual three-dimensional model of the human cochlea, which consists of detailed
representations of the most important cochlear structures. Based on this we created a volume conductor model
using finite element method. This model allows for the numerical computation of the electrical potential
distributions inside the modeled structures caused by current applied to the CI electrodes. For the sake of
accuracy, emphasis was put on a detailed and realistic representation of the cochlear structures. This, however,
implicates high computational complexity. Therefore, for efficient modeling a compromise between accuracy and
computational effort has to be found. For this purpose, we investigate the influence of the modeled structures on
resulting potential distributions by iterative modifications of the model. Main focus of the evaluation is on the
electrical potentials in the nerve tissue, as these are responsible for neural excitation and therefore cause
auditory perception.
The results show the differences in potential distributions for the analyzed model variations. As a result,
structures with a minor effect on electrical potentials are identified. This could contribute to more efficient