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Authors van Hoesel RJ, Jones GL, Litovsky RY
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Journal J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Pages: 557-67
Publish Date 2009 Dec
PubMed ID 19513792
PMC ID 2774408

Electrical interaural time delay (ITD) discrimination was measured using 300-ms bursts applied to binaural pitch matched electrodes at basal, mid, and apical locations in each ear. Six bilateral implant users, who had previously shown good ITD sensitivity at a pulse rate of 100 pulses per second (pps), were assessed. Thresholds were measured as a function of pulse rate between 100 and 1,000 Hz, as well as modulation rate over that same range for high-rate pulse trains at 6,000 pps. Results were similar for all three places of stimulation and showed decreasing ITD sensitivity as either pulse rate or modulation rate increased, although the extent of that effect varied across subjects. The results support a model comprising a common ITD mechanism for high- and low-frequency places of stimulation, which, for electrical stimulation, is rate-limited in the same way across electrodes because peripheral temporal responses are largely place invariant. Overall, ITD sensitivity was somewhat better with unmodulated pulse trains than with high-rate pulse trains modulated at matched rates, although comparisons at individual rates showed that difference to be significant only at 300 Hz. Electrodes presenting with the lowest thresholds at 600 Hz were further assessed using bursts with a ramped onset of 10 ms. The slower rise time resulted in decreased performance in four of the listeners, but not in the two best performers, indicating that those two could use ongoing cues at 600 Hz. Performance at each place was also measured using single-pulse stimuli. Comparison of those data with the unmodulated 300-ms burst thresholds showed that on average, the addition of ongoing cues beyond the onset enhanced overall ITD sensitivity at 100 and 300 Hz, but not at 600 Hz. At 1,000 Hz, the added ongoing cues actually decreased performance. That result is attributed to the introduction of ambiguous cues within the physiologically relevant range and increased dichotic firing.

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