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Current focusing and steering: modeling, physiology, and psychophysics.


Current steering and current focusing are stimulation techniques designed to increase the number of distinct perceptual channels available to cochlear implant (CI) users by adjusting currents applied simultaneously to multiple CI electrodes. Previous studies exploring current steering and current focusing stimulation strategies are reviewed, including results of research using computational models, animal neurophysiology, and human psychophysics. Preliminary results of additional neurophysiological and human psychophysical studies are presented that demonstrate the success of current steering strategies in stimulating auditory nerve regions lying between physical CI electrodes, as well as current focusing strategies that excite regions narrower than those stimulated using monopolar configurations. These results are interpreted in the context of perception and speech reception by CI users. Disparities between results of physiological and psychophysical studies are discussed. The differences in stimulation used for physiological and psychophysical studies are hypothesized to contribute to these disparities. Finally, application of current steering and focusing strategies to other types of auditory prostheses is also discussed.