OBJECTIVES: Commercially available cochlear implant systems attempt to deliver frequency information going down to a few hundred Hertz, but the electrode arrays are not designed to reach the most apical regions of the cochlea, which correspond to these low frequencies. This may cause a mismatch between the frequencies presented by a cochlear implant electrode array and the frequencies represented at the corresponding location in a normal-hearing cochlea. In the following study, the mismatch between the frequency presented at a given cochlear angle and the frequency expected by an acoustic hearing ear at the corresponding angle is examined for the cochlear implant systems that are most commonly used in the United States. DESIGN: The angular insertion of each of the electrodes on four different electrode arrays (MED-EL Standard, MED-EL Flex28, Advanced Bionics HiFocus 1J, and Cochlear Contour Advance) was estimated from X-ray. For the angular location of each electrode on each electrode array, the predicted spiral ganglion frequency was estimated. The predicted spiral ganglion frequency was compared with the center frequency provided by the corresponding electrode using the manufacturer's default frequency-to-electrode allocation. RESULTS: Differences across devices were observed for the place of stimulation for frequencies below 650 Hz. Longer electrode arrays (i.e., the MED-EL Standard and Flex28) demonstrated smaller deviations from the spiral ganglion map than the other electrode arrays. For insertion angles up to approximately 270 degrees , the frequencies presented at a given location were typically approximately an octave below what would be expected by a spiral ganglion frequency map, while the deviations were larger for angles deeper than 270 degrees . For frequencies above 650 Hz, the frequency to angle relationship was consistent across all four electrode models. CONCLUSIONS: A mismatch was observed between the predicted frequency and the default frequency provided by every electrode on all electrode arrays. The mismatch can be reduced by changing the default frequency allocations, inserting electrodes deeper into the cochlea, or allowing cochlear implant users to adapt to the mismatch. Further studies are required to fully assess the clinical significance of the frequency mismatch.
School of Medicine