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Mechanisms of Localization and Speech Perception with Colocated and Spatially Separated Noise and Speech Maskers Under Single-Sided Deafness with a Cochlear Implant

Dirks, Coral1,2; Nelson, Peggy B.1; Sladen, Douglas P.3; Oxenham, Andrew J.2

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000708
Research Articles

Objectives: This study tested listeners with a cochlear implant (CI) in one ear and acoustic hearing in the other ear, to assess their ability to localize sound and to understand speech in collocated or spatially separated noise or speech maskers.

Design: Eight CI listeners with contralateral acoustic hearing ranging from normal hearing to moderate sensorineural hearing loss were tested. Localization accuracy was measured in five of the listeners using stimuli that emphasized the separate contributions of interaural level differences (ILDs) and interaural time differences (ITD) in the temporal envelope and/or fine structure. Sentence recognition was tested in all eight CI listeners, using collocated and spatially separated speech-shaped Gaussian noise and two-talker babble. Performance was compared with that of age-matched normal-hearing listeners via loudspeakers or via headphones with vocoder simulations of CI processing.

Results: Localization improved with the CI but only when high-frequency ILDs were available. Listeners experienced no additional benefit via ITDs in the stimulus envelope or fine structure using real or vocoder-simulated CIs. Speech recognition in two-talker babble improved with a CI in seven of the eight listeners when the target was located at the front and the babble was presented on the side of the acoustic-hearing ear, but otherwise showed little or no benefit of a CI.

Conclusion: Sound localization can be improved with a CI in cases of significant residual hearing in the contralateral ear, but only for sounds with high-frequency content, and only based on ILDs. In speech understanding, the CI contributed most when it was in the ear with the better signal to noise ratio with a speech masker.

1Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

2Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

3Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA.

Received May 18, 2017; accepted December 28, 2018.

This work was supported by the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science (CATSS) at the University of Minnesota, NIH grant [R01 DC012262] (to A.J.O.), and NIH grant [F32DC016815-01] (to C.E.D). The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Coral Dirks, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, 115 Shevlin Hall, 164 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. E-mail:

Online date: March 07, 2019

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