The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a wider instantaneous input dynamic range (IIDR) setting on speech perception and comfort in quiet and noise for children wearing the Nucleus 24™ implant system and the Freedom™ speech processor. In addition, children's ability to understand soft and conversational level speech in relation to aided sound-field thresholds was examined.
Thirty children (age, 7 to 17 years) with the Nucleus 24 cochlear implant system and the Freedom speech processor with two different IIDR settings (30 versus 40 dB) were tested on the Consonant Nucleus Consonant (CNC) word test at 50 and 60 dB SPL, the Bamford-Kowal-Bench Speech in Noise Test, and a loudness rating task for four-talker speech noise. Aided thresholds for frequency-modulated tones, narrowband noise, and recorded Ling sounds were obtained with the two IIDRs and examined in relation to CNC scores at 50 dB SPL. Speech Intelligibility Indices were calculated using the long-term average speech spectrum of the CNC words at 50 dB SPL measured at each test site and aided thresholds.
Group mean CNC scores at 50 dB SPL with the 40 IIDR were significantly higher (p
< 0.001) than with the 30 IIDR. Group mean CNC scores at 60 dB SPL, loudness ratings, and the signal to noise ratios-50 for Bamford-Kowal-Bench Speech in Noise Test were not significantly different for the two IIDRs. Significantly improved aided thresholds at 250 to 6000 Hz as well as higher Speech Intelligibility Indices afforded improved audibility for speech presented at soft levels (50 dB SPL).
These results indicate that an increased IIDR provides improved word recognition for soft levels of speech without compromising comfort of higher levels of speech sounds or sentence recognition in noise.