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Authors Goupell MJ, Litovsky RY
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Journal J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume: 137 Issue: 1 Pages: 335-49
Publish Date 2015 Jan
PubMed ID 25618064
PMC ID 4304956

Provision of bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) to people who are deaf is partially justified by improved abilities to understand speech in noise when comparing bilateral vs unilateral listening conditions. However, bilateral CI listeners generally show only monaural head shadow with little improvement in speech understanding due to binaural unmasking. Sensitivity to change in interaural envelope correlation, which is related to binaural speech unmasking, was investigated. Bilateral CI users were tested with bilaterally synchronized processors at single, pitch-matched electrode pairs. First, binaural masking level differences (BMLDs) were measured using 1000 pulse-per-second (pps) carriers, yielding BMLDs of 11.1 ± 6.5 and 8.5 ± 4.2 dB for 10- and 50-Hz bandwidth masking noises, respectively. Second, envelope correlation change just-noticeable differences (JNDs) were measured. Stimuli presented at 1000 pps yielded lower JNDs than those presented at 100 pps. Furthermore, perfectly correlated reference stimuli produced lower JNDs than uncorrelated references, and uncorrelated references generally produced immeasurable JNDs. About 25% of JNDs measured in the CI listeners were in the range of JNDs observed in normal-hearing listeners presented CI simulations. In conclusion, CI listeners can perceive changes in interaural envelope correlation, but the poor performance may be a major limiting factor in binaural unmasking tested to date in realistic listening environments.

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