Updated cochlear implant technology and optimized fitting can have a substantial impact on speech perception. The effects of upgrades in processor technology and aided thresholds on word recognition at soft input levels and sentence recognition in noise were examined. We hypothesized that updated speech processors and lower aided thresholds would allow improved recognition of soft speech without compromising performance in noise.
109 teenagers who had used a Nucleus 22-cochlear implant since preschool were tested with their current speech processor(s) (101 unilateral and 8 bilateral): 13 used the Spectra, 22 the ESPrit 22, 61 the ESPrit 3G, and 13 the Freedom.
Main Outcome Measures:
The Lexical Neighborhood Test (LNT) was administered at 70 and 50 dB SPL and the Bamford Kowal Bench sentences were administered in quiet and in noise. Aided thresholds were obtained for frequency-modulated tones from 250 to 4,000 Hz. Results were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance.
Aided thresholds for the Freedom/3G group were significantly lower (better) than the Spectra/Sprint group. LNT scores at 50 dB were significantly higher for the Freedom/3G group. No significant differences between the 2 groups were found for the LNT at 70 or sentences in quiet or noise.
Adolescents using updated processors that allowed for aided detection thresholds of 30 dB HL or better performed the best at soft levels. The BKB in noise results suggest that greater access to soft speech does not compromise listening in noise.