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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The auditory brainstem implant (ABI) is a surgically implanted device to electrically stimulate auditory neurons in the cochlear nucleus complex of the brainstem in humans to restore hearing sensations. The ABI is similar in function to a cochlear implant, but overall outcomes are poorer. However, recent applications of the ABI to new patient populations and improvements in surgical technique have led to significant improvements in outcomes. While the ABI provides hearing benefits to patients, the outcomes challenge our understanding of how the brain processes neural patterns of auditory information. The neural pattern of activation produced by an ABI is highly unnatural, yet some patients achieve high levels of speech understanding. Based on a meta-analysis of ABI surgeries and outcomes, a theory is proposed of a specialized sub-system of the cochlear nucleus that is critical for speech understanding.

Keywords: cochlear nucleus, auditory brainstem implant, auditory prosthesis, speech understanding, low spontaneous neurons, small cell cap

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