Author(s): Kerber S, Seeber BU
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Abstract Users of bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) experience difficulties localizing sounds in reverberant rooms, even in rooms where normal-hearing listeners would hardly notice the reverberation. We measured the localization ability of seven bilateral CI users listening with their own devices in anechoic space and in a simulated reverberant room. To determine factors affecting performance in reverberant space we measured the sensitivity to interaural time differences (ITDs), interaural level differences (ILDs), and forward masking in the same participants using direct computer control of the electric stimulation in their CIs. Localization performance, quantified by the coefficient of determination r(2) and the root mean squared error, was significantly worse in the reverberant room than in anechoic conditions. Localization performance in the anechoic room, expressed as r(2), was best predicted by subject's sensitivity to ILDs. However, the decrease in localization performance caused by reverberation was better predicted by the sensitivity to envelope ITDs measured on single electrode pairs, with a correlation coefficient of 0.92. The CI users who were highly sensitive to envelope ITDs also better maintained their localization ability in reverberant space. Results in the forward masking task added only marginally to the predictions of localization performance in both environments. The results indicate that envelope ITDs provided by CI processors support localization in reverberant space. Thus, methods that improve perceptual access to envelope ITDs could help improve localization with bilateral CIs in everyday listening situations.
This article was published in J Assoc Res Otolaryngol
and referenced in Journal of Phonetics & Audiology