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Accuracy of Cochlear Implant Recipients on Pitch Perception, Melody Recognition, and Speech Reception in Noise

Gfeller, Kate; Turner, Christopher; Oleson, Jacob; Zhang, Xuyang; Gantz, Bruce; Froman, Rebecca; Olszewski, Carol

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e3180479318
Research Articles

Objective: The purposes of this study were to (a) examine the accuracy of cochlear implant recipients who use different types of devices and signal processing strategies on pitch ranking as a function of size of interval and frequency range and (b) to examine the relations between this pitch perception measure and demographic variables, melody recognition, and speech reception in background noise.

Design: One hundred fourteen cochlear implant users and 21 normal-hearing adults were tested on a pitch discrimination task (pitch ranking) that required them to determine direction of pitch change as a function of base frequency and interval size. Three groups were tested: (a) long electrode cochlear implant users (N = 101); (b) short electrode users that received acoustic plus electrical stimulation (A+E) (N = 13); and (c) a normal-hearing (NH) comparison group (N = 21). Pitch ranking was tested at standard frequencies of 131 to 1048 Hz, and the size of the pitch-change intervals ranged from 1 to 4 semitones. A generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) was fit to predict pitch ranking and to determine if group differences exist as a function of base frequency and interval size. Overall significance effects were measured with Chi-square tests and individual effects were measured with t-tests. Pitch ranking accuracy was correlated with demographic measures (age at time of testing, length of profound deafness, months of implant use), frequency difference limens, familiar melody recognition, and two measures of speech reception in noise.

Results: The long electrode recipients performed significantly poorer on pitch discrimination than the NH and A+E group. The A+E users performed similarly to the NH listeners as a function of interval size in the lower base frequency range, but their pitch discrimination scores deteriorated slightly in the higher frequency range. The long electrode recipients, although less accurate than participants in the NH and A+E groups, tended to perform with greater accuracy within the higher frequency range. There were statistically significant correlations between pitch ranking and familiar melody recognition as well as with pure-tone frequency difference limens at 200 and 400 Hz.

Conclusions: Low-frequency acoustic hearing improves pitch discrimination as compared with traditional, electric-only cochlear implants. These findings have implications for musical tasks such as familiar melody recognition.

The purposes of this study were to (a) examine the accuracy of cochlear implant (CI) recipients using conventional long electrode and hybrid devices (acoustic + electric stimulation, A + E) on pitch ranking as a function of size of interval and frequency range; and (b) to examine the relationships between this pitch perception measure and demographic variables, melody recognition and speech reception in background noise. The long electrode recipients performed significantly poorer on pitch ranking than the A + E group. There were statistically significant correlations between pitch ranking and familiar melody recognition as well as with pure tone frequency difference limens at 200 and 400 Hz. Low-frequency acoustic hearing improves pitch discrimination as compared to traditional, electric-only cochlear implants. These findings have implications for musical tasks such as familiar melody recognition.

School of Music (K.G.), Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center; Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology (C.T.), Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center; Department of Biostatistics (J.O.); Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology (X.Z.); Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (B.G.), Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center, The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center (R.F. and C.O.), University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, The University of Iowa.

Address for correspondence: Dr. Kate Gfeller, 200 Hawkins Drive, 21200 PFP, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: kay-gfeller@uiowa.edu

Received August 17, 2005; accepted January 22, 2007.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.