Effects of temporal properties on compound action potentials in response to amplitude-modulated electric pulse trains in guinea pigs

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The electrically evoked compound action potential (ECAP) of the auditory nerve in response to amplitude-modulated pulse trains varies over time, but the response amplitudes are not linearly proportional to the level of stimulus pulses. At least two mechanisms could contribute to the deviations of the ECAP response pattern from that of the stimulus envelope. The first mechanism is time-invariant or stationary that reflects the non-linear growth of response amplitude with changes in stimulus level that is evident in the response to single pulses. This can be considered a time-invariant or stationary effect. The second mechanism is time-variant or non-stationary and reflects neural refractoriness and adaptation. The purpose of this study was to characterize the auditory nerve responses to amplitude-modulated pulse trains and also to evaluate the extent to which the stationary and non-stationary effects may contribute to those responses. ECAP amplitudes were predicted from single-pulse growth functions of the auditory nerve to account for time-invariant effects. Linear regression was performed on the measured vs. predicted ECAP amplitudes to quantify the discrepancies between the two datasets, thereby separating the influence of non-linear growth from time-varying effects on ECAP amplitudes. The results demonstrated a bandpass function of the modulated response amplitudes, with a low-cutoff modulation frequency at 300 Hz and a high-cutoff modulation frequency at 800 Hz, depending on the carrier pulse rate. The relative contribution of the temporal effects on ECAP amplitudes is greatest at low stimulus levels and low modulation depths.

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