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Authors Goupell MJ, Litovsky RY
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Journal J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Pages: 115-29
Publish Date 2014 Feb
PubMed ID 24258458
PMC ID 3901860

While bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) provide some binaural benefits, these benefits are limited compared to those observed in normal-hearing (NH) listeners. The large frequency-to-electrode allocation bandwidths (BWs) in CIs compared to auditory filter BWs in NH listeners increases the interaural fluctuation rate available for binaural unmasking, which may limit binaural benefits. The purpose of this work was to investigate the effect of interaural fluctuation rate on correlation change discrimination and binaural masking-level differences in NH listeners presented a CI simulation using a pulsed-sine vocoder. In experiment 1, correlation-change just-noticeable differences (JNDs) and tone-in-noise thresholds were measured for narrowband noises with different BWs and center frequencies (CFs). The results suggest that the BW, CF, and/or interaural fluctuation rate are important factors for correlation change discrimination. In experiment 2, the interaural fluctuation rate was systematically varied and dissociated from changes in BW and CF by using a pulsed-sine vocoder. Results indicated that the interaural fluctuation rate did not affect correlation change JNDs for correlated reference noises; however, slow interaural fluctuations increased correlation change JNDs for uncorrelated reference noises. In experiment 3, the BW, CF, and vocoder pulse rate were varied while interaural fluctuation rate was held constant. JNDs increased for increasing BW and decreased for increasing CF. In summary, relatively fast interaural fluctuation rates are not detrimental for detecting changes in interaural correlation. Thus, limiting factors to binaural benefits in CI listeners could be a result of other temporal and/or spectral deficiencies from electrical stimulation.

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