Research ArticleNEUROTECHNOLOGY

Microstructured thin-film electrode technology enables proof of concept of scalable, soft auditory brainstem implants

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Science Translational Medicine  16 Oct 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 514, eaax9487
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax9487

Beneficial bending

Some people with deafness receive auditory brainstem implants (ABIs), neurotechnology that directly stimulates the cochlear nucleus (CN). Unfortunately, auditory outcomes after implantation are limited, possibly due to mismatch between the stiffness of the implant and the CN. Vachicouras et al. developed ABIs that conform to the curvature of the CN. The soft arrays could be easily handled during surgery and functioned over 1 month when implanted in mice. A scaled-up version of the conformable ABIs inserted in human cadavers showed good electromechanical and electrochemical stability and a potentially larger dynamic range compared to the clinical ABIs. These proof-of-concept results support further testing in models of deafness.

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