Behavioral responses of deafened guinea pigs to intracochlear electrical stimulation: a new rapid psychophysical procedure
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AbstractIn auditory research the guinea pig is often preferred above rats and mice because of the easily accessible cochlea and because the frequency range of its hearing is more comparable to that of humans. Studies of the guinea-pig auditory system primarily apply histological and electrophysiological measures. Behavioral animal paradigms, in particular in combination with these histological and electrophysiological methods, are necessary in the development of new therapeutic interventions. However, the guinea pig is not considered an attractive animal for behavioral experiments. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop a behavioral task suitable for guinea pigs, that can be utilized in cochlear-implant related research. Guinea pigs were trained in a modified shuttle-box in which a stream of air was used as unconditioned stimulus (UCS). A stream of air was preferred over conventionally used methods as electric foot-shocks since it produces less stress, which is a confounding factor in behavioral experiments. Hearing guinea pigs were trained to respond to acoustic stimuli. They responded correctly within only five sessions of ten minutes. The animals maintained their performance four weeks after the right cochlea was implanted with an electrode array. After systemic deafening, the animals responded in the first session immediately to intracochlear electrical stimulation. These responses were not affected by daily chronic electrical stimulation (CES). In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that guinea pigs can be trained relatively fast to respond to acoustic stimuli, and that the training has a lasting effect, which generalizes to intracochlear electrical stimulation after deafening. Furthermore, it demonstrates that bilaterally deafened guinea pigs with substantial ( approximately 50%) loss of spiral ganglion cells (SGCs), detect intracochlear electrical stimulation.
TypeArticle / Letter to editor