3D microscopic image of an optical LED-based cochlear implant (blue LEDs in gray silicone encapsulation) with hair cells (orange) and auditory nerve (blue/green) in the cochlea of a common marmoset. Image: Daniel Keppeler, UMG

Better hearing with optical cochlear implants

Imaging techniques enable decisive step toward development of novel hearing prostheses

In cochlear implants background noises compromise the comprehension of speech. The teams of Tobias Moser and Tim Salditt (both MBExC) were now able to use combined imaging techniques of X-ray tomography and fluorescence microscopy to create detailed images of the cochleae of rodents and non-human primates. They show that spatially limited optogenetic stimulation of auditory neurons is possible. Accordingly, optical stimulation would lead to a much more differentiated auditory impression than the electrical stimulation used so far. Published in PNAS.

Link to the press release