Physiological Mechanisms in Combined Electric–Acoustic Stimulation
Electrical stimulation is normally performed on ears that have no hearing function, i.e., lack functional hair cells. The properties of electrically-evoked responses in these cochleae were investigated in several previous studies. Recent clinical developments have introduced cochlear implantation (CI) in residually-hearing ears to improve speech understanding in noise. The present study documents the known physiological differences between electrical stimulation of hair cells and of spiral ganglion cells, respectively, and reviews the mechanisms of combined electric and acoustic stimulation in the hearing ears.Data Sources:
Literature review from 1971 to 2016.Conclusions:
Compared with pure electrical stimulation the combined electroacoustic stimulation provides additional low-frequency information and expands the dynamic range of the input. Physiological studies document a weaker synchronization of the evoked activity in electrically stimulated hearing ears compared with deaf ears that reduces the hypersynchronization of electrically-evoked activity. The findings suggest the possibility of balancing the information provided by acoustic and electric input using stimulus intensity. Absence of distorting acoustic–electric interactions allows exploiting these clinical benefits of electroacoustic stimulation.