A cochlear implant system includes an electrode array (1) comprising multiple platinum ring electrodes in a silastic carrier to be implanted in the cochlea of the ear. A receiver-stimulator (3) containing a semiconductor integrated circuit and other components is implanted in the patient adjacent the ear to receive data information and power through tuned coil (5) using an inductive link (6) from a patient-wearable external speech processor (7) including an integrated circuit and various components which is configured or mapped to emit data signals from an EPROM programmed to suit each patient electrical stimulation perceptions through testing of the patient and his implanted stimulator/electrode using a diagnostic and programming unit (12) connected to the processor by an interface unit (10). The system allows use of various speech processing strategies including dominant spectral peak and amplitude and compression of voice pitch so as to include voiced sounds, unvoiced glottal sounds and prosodic information. Biphastic pulses are supplied to various combinations of electrodes by a switch controlled current sink in various modes of operation. In-place testing of the implant is also provided. Various safety features are incorporated to insure that harmful impulses are not imposed on the patient.
Transmission of data is by a series of discrete data bursts which represent the chosen electrode(s), the electrode mode configuration, the stimulating current, and amplitude determined by the duration of the amplitude burst.