To assess the effect of the Audallion ® BEAMformer noise reduction preprocessor on the sound localization ability of children fitted unilaterally with the Nucleus 22-channel cochlear implant.
Eight children aged 11 to 14 yr participated. Using three arrays of six loudspeakers, each child was tested in a semi-reverberant sound proof booth representative of a small office environment. The six loudspeakers were positioned 30° apart in the horizontal plane at a distance of 1 m, spanning 150° either directly in front of or to the left or right of the subject. The stimulus to be localized was a 300 msec broadband noise with a rise/decay of 50 msec. Subjects were tested with the BEAMformer in four possible settings, including one single microphone control condition, with each of the three loudspeaker arrays. One block of 60 forced-choice speaker identification trials was presented for each of the 12 listening conditions. On each trial, the stimulus was emitted by one of the six loudspeakers, randomly selected.
Results demonstrated that subjects were unable to discriminate among sound sources arrayed horizontally in space using the cochlear implant microphone alone, or in combination, with the BEAMformer microphone located on the other ear. Results also showed that using the BEAMformer did not bias the perception of spatial location.
The localization of acoustic stimuli in pediatric cochlear implant users was unaffected by the use of the Audallion® BEAMformer. The apparent origin of most sounds appears to be pulled toward the implanted ear. Further studies are needed to validate findings.