Speech perception with combined electric-acoustic stimulation and bilateral cochlear implants in a multisource noise field

Tobias Rader, Hugo Fastl, Uwe Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to measure and compare speech perception in users of electric-acoustic stimulation (EAS) supported by a hearing aid in the unimplanted ear and in bilateral cochlear implant (CI) users under different noise and sound field conditions. Gap listening was assessed by comparing performance in unmodulated and modulated Comité Consultatif International Téléphonique et Télégraphique (CCITT) noise conditions, and binaural interaction was investigated by comparing single source and multisource sound fields. METHODS:: Speech perception in noise was measured using a closed-set sentence test (Oldenburg Sentence Test, OLSA) in a multisource noise field (MSNF) consisting of a four-loudspeaker array with independent noise sources and a single source in frontal position (S0N0). Speech simulating noise (Fastl-noise), CCITT-noise (continuous), and OLSA-noise (pseudo continuous) served as noise sources with different temporal patterns. Speech tests were performed in two groups of subjects who were using either EAS (n = 12) or bilateral CIs (n = 10). All subjects in the EAS group were fitted with a high-power hearing aid in the opposite ear (bimodal EAS). The average group score on monosyllable in quiet was 68.8% (EAS) and 80.5% (bilateral CI). A group of 22 listeners with normal hearing served as controls to compare and evaluate potential gap listening effects in implanted patients. RESULTS:: Average speech reception thresholds in the EAS group were significantly lower than those for the bilateral CI group in all test conditions (CCITT 6.1 dB, p = 0.001; Fastl-noise 5.4 dB, p < 0.01; Oldenburg-(OL)-noise 1.6 dB, p < 0.05). Bilateral CI and EAS user groups showed a significant improvement of 4.3 dB (p = 0.004) and 5.4 dB (p = 0.002) between S0N0 and MSNF sound field conditions respectively, which signifies advantages caused by bilateral interaction in both groups. Performance in the control group showed a significant gap listening effect with a difference of 6.5 dB between modulated and unmodulated noise in S0N0, and a difference of 3.0 dB in MSNF. The ability to "glimpse" into short temporal masker gaps was absent in both groups of implanted subjects. CONCLUSIONS:: Combined EAS in one ear supported by a hearing aid on the contralateral ear provided significantly improved speech perception compared with bilateral cochlear implantation. Although the scores for monosyllable words in quiet were higher in the bilateral CI group, the EAS group performed better in different noise and sound field conditions. Furthermore, the results indicated that binaural interaction between EAS in one ear and residual acoustic hearing in the opposite ear enhances speech perception in complex noise situations. Both bilateral CI and bimodal EAS users did not benefit from short temporal masker gaps, therefore the better performance of the EAS group in modulated noise conditions could be explained by the improved transmission of fundamental frequency cues in the lower-frequency region of acoustic hearing, which might foster the grouping of auditory objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-332
Number of pages9
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


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