This study aimed to compare the effects of increasing the interphase gap (IPG) on the neural response of the electrically stimulated cochlear nerve (CN) between children with CN deficiency (CND) and children with normal-sized CNs.
Study participants included 30 children with CND and 30 children with normal-sized CNs. All subjects were implanted with a Cochlear Nucleus device with the internal electrode array 24RE[CA] in the test ear. The stimulus was a charge-balanced, cathodic leading, biphasic pulse with a pulse-phase duration of 50 μsec. For each subject, the electrically evoked compound action potential (eCAP) input/output (I/O) function was measured for 6 IPGs (i.e., 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 μsec) at 3 electrode locations across the electrode array. For each subject and each testing electrode, the highest stimulation used to measure the eCAP I/O function was the maximum comfortable level measured with an IPG of 42 μsec. Dependent variables (DVs) were the maximum eCAP amplitude, the eCAP threshold, and the slope of the eCAP I/O function estimated using both linear and sigmoidal regression functions. For each DV, the size of the IPG effect was defined as the proportional change relative to the result measured for the 7 μsec IPG at the basal electrode location. Generalized linear mixed effect models with subject group, electrode location, and IPG duration as the fixed effects and subject as the random effect were used to compare these DVs and the size of the IPG effect on these DVs.
Children with CND showed smaller maximum eCAP amplitudes, higher eCAP thresholds, and smaller slopes of eCAP I/O function estimated using either linear or sigmoidal regression function than children with normal-sized CNs. Increasing the IPG duration resulted in larger maximum eCAP amplitudes, lower eCAP thresholds and larger slopes of eCAP I/O function estimated using sigmoidal regression function at all three electrode locations in both study groups. Compared with children with normal-sized CNs, children with CND showed larger IPG effects on both the maximum eCAP amplitude and the slope of the eCAP I/O function estimated using either linear or sigmoidal regression function, and a smaller IPG effect on the eCAP threshold than those measured in children with normal-sized CNs.
Increasing the IPG increases responsiveness of the electrically stimulated CN in both children with CND and children with normal-sized CNs. The maximum eCAP amplitude and the slope of the eCAP I/O function measured in human listeners with poorer CN survival are more sensitive to changes in the IPG. In contrast, the eCAP threshold in listeners with poorer CN survival is less sensitive to increases in the IPG. Further studies are warranted to identify the best parameters of eCAP results for predicting CN survival before this eCAP testing paradigm can be used as a clinical tool for evaluating neural health for individual cochlear implant patients.