Nucleus Hybrid Cochlear Implant
(CI) users hear low-frequency sounds via acoustic stimulation and high-frequency sounds via electrical stimulation. This within-subject study compares three different methods of coordinating programming of the acoustic and electrical components of the Hybrid device. Speech perception and cortical auditory evoked potentials (CAEP) were used to assess differences in outcome. The goals of this study were to determine whether (1) the evoked potential measures could predict which programming strategy resulted in better outcome on the speech perception task or was preferred by the listener, and (2) CAEPs could be used to predict which subjects benefitted most from having access to the electrical signal provided by the Hybrid implant.
CAEPs were recorded from 10 Nucleus Hybrid CI users. Study participants were tested using three different experimental processor programs (MAPs) that differed in terms of how much overlap there was between the range of frequencies processed by the acoustic component of the Hybrid device and range of frequencies processed by the electrical component. The study design included allowing participants to acclimatize for a period of up to 4 weeks with each experimental program prior to speech perception and evoked potential testing. Performance using the experimental MAPs was assessed using both a closed-set consonant recognition task and an adaptive test that measured the signal-to-noise ratio that resulted in 50% correct identification of a set of 12 spondees presented in background noise. Long-duration, synthetic vowels were used to record both the cortical P1–N1–P2 “onset” response and the auditory “change” response (also known as the auditory change complex [ACC]). Correlations between the evoked potential measures and performance on the speech perception tasks are reported.
Differences in performance using the three programming strategies were not large. Peak-to-peak amplitude of the ACC was not found to be sensitive enough to accurately predict the programming strategy that resulted in the best performance on either measure of speech perception. All 10 Hybrid CI users had residual low-frequency acoustic hearing. For all 10 subjects, allowing them to use both the acoustic and electrical signals provided by the implant improved performance on the consonant recognition task. For most subjects, it also resulted in slightly larger cortical change responses. However, the impact that listening mode had on the cortical change responses was small, and again, the correlation between the evoked potential and speech perception results was not significant.
CAEPs can be successfully measured from Hybrid CI users. The responses that are recorded are similar to those recorded from normal-hearing listeners. The goal of this study was to see if CAEPs might play a role either in identifying the experimental program that resulted in best performance on a consonant recognition task or in documenting benefit from the use of the electrical signal provided by the Hybrid CI. At least for the stimuli and specific methods used in this study, no such predictive relationship was found.