DOI: 10.3390/bioengineering10121436 ISSN: 2306-5354

A Virtual Inner Ear Model Selects Ramped Pulse Shapes for Vestibular Afferent Stimulation

Joseph Chen, Jayden Sprigg, Nicholas Castle, Cayman Matson, Abderrahmane Hedjoudje, Chenkai Dai
  • Bioengineering

Bilateral vestibular deficiency (BVD) results in chronic dizziness, blurry vision when moving the head, and postural instability. Vestibular prostheses (VPs) show promise as a treatment, but the VP-restored vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) gain in human trials falls short of expectations. We hypothesize that the slope of the rising ramp in stimulation pulses plays an important role in the recruitment of vestibular afferent units. To test this hypothesis, we utilized customized programming to generate ramped pulses with different slopes, testing their efficacy in inducing electrically evoked compound action potentials (eCAPs) and current spread via bench tests and simulations in a virtual inner model created in this study. The results confirmed that the slope of the ramping pulses influenced the recruitment of vestibular afferent units. Subsequently, an optimized stimulation pulse train was identified using model simulations, exhibiting improved modulation of vestibular afferent activity. This optimized slope not only reduced the excitation spread within the semicircular canals (SCCs) but also expanded the neural dynamic range. While the model simulations exhibited promising results, in vitro and in vivo experiments are warranted to validate the findings of this study in future investigations.

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