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Authors Kan A, Litovsky RY
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Journal J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume: 135 Issue: 4 Pages: 2410
Publish Date 2014 Apr
PubMed ID 25236044

For bilateral cochlear implant (BiCI) users, understanding a target talker in noisy situations is difficult. Current efforts for improving speech-in-noise understanding have focused on improving signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by multi-microphone techniques and signal processing, with only moderate improvement in performance. BiCI users typically report having a “better ear” for listening and recent data collected in our lab has shown that they have an asymmetry in speech unmasking performance. This work proposes a novel listening strategy for improving speech-in-noise understanding by combining: (1) a priori knowledge of a “better ear” and having a BiCI user selectively attend to a target talker in that ear; with (2) signal processing that delivers the target talker to the “better” ear and the noisy background to the opposite ear. We compared performance on a speech-in-noise test with and without this “better ear” strategy, using a virtual auditory space created from individualized head-related transfer functions. Subjects showed an improvement of at least 6 dB SNR in the speech reception threshold when using the “better ear” strategy, demonstrating that the strategy can boost speech-in-noise understanding for BiCI users. The novelty of this strategy is that it can be easily applied to other devices aimed at improving hearing. Copyright © 2017 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System