Infrared neural stimulation (INS) may be beneficial in auditory prostheses because of its spatially selective activation of spiral ganglion neurons. However, the response properties of single auditory neurons to INS and the possible contributions of its optoacoustic effects are yet to be examined. In this study, the temporal properties of auditory neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) of guinea pigs in response to INS were characterized. Spatial selectivity of INS was observed along the tonotopically organized ICC. Trains of laser pulses and trains of acoustic clicks were used to evoke single unit responses in ICC of normal hearing animals. In response to INS, ICC neurons showed lower limiting rates, longer latencies, and lower firing efficiencies. In deaf animals, ICC neurons could still be stimulated by INS while unresponsive to acoustic stimulation. The site and spatial selectivity of INS both likely shaped the temporal properties of ICC neurons.
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