An implantable electrode array, adapted for insertion into either a left or right cochlea, assumes a spiral shape so as to hug the modiolar wall of the cochlea after insertion into the cochlea. All of the electrode contacts are spaced apart along one edge or side of the array, termed the "medial side", which medial side resides on the inside of the spiral. The electrode contacts are thus positioned in close proximity to the modiolar wall, closest to the ganglion cells that are to be stimulated by the electrode array. A positioning stylet made from a suitable memory wire is inserted into a longitudinal channel of the array. The stylet is made from memory wire and has properties selected to return to a desired memory spiral shape at or near body temperature (e.g., approximately 37.degree. C. or 98.6.degree. F.). The positioning stylet is cooled and bent as needed to assume a relatively straight, or non-spiral shape. While relatively straight, the stylet is slidably inserted into the longitudinal channel of the electrode array. The electrode array is then inserted into the cochlea in conventional manner. As the stylet within the electrode array warms to body temperature, it returns to its spiral memory shape, thereby causing the electrode array to also assume a spiral shape, thus positioning the electrode contacts of the electrode array against the modiolar wall.