Effects of Stimulation Rate on Speech Recognition with Cochlear Implants

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Phoneme and speech recognition were measured as a function of stimulation pulse rate in 12 listeners with three types of cochlear implants. Identification of consonants and vowels and recognition of words and sentences were measured in 5 Clarion C1 subjects fit with continuous interleaved sampling (CIS) processors having 4 or 8 electrodes, 4 Nucleus 24 subjects fit with CIS processors having 4, 8, 12 or 16 electrodes and 3 Clarion C2 subjects fit with CIS processors with 4, 8, 12 and 16 electrodes. Stimulation rates ranged from 200 to more than 5000 Hz per electrode, depending on the device, number of electrodes used and stimulation strategy. Listeners were also tested on the same materials with their original processor prior to receiving the experimental processors. All testing was done in quiet listening conditions with essentially no practice with the experimental processor prior to data collection. Listeners scored the highest with their original processor. Little difference in speech understanding was observed for listener scores with processors using different stimulation rates. Speech recognition was significantly poorer only at the lowest stimulation rate and at high rates that used noninterleaved pulses. Speech recognition was similar for processors using 8, 12 or 16 electrodes. Only 4-electrode processors produced a significantly poorer performance. These results suggest that patients with present commercial implants are not able to make full use of the number of channels of spectral information delivered by the present speech processors. In addition, the results show no significant change in performance as a function of stimulation rate, suggesting that high stimulation rates do not result in improved access to temporal cues in speech, at least under quiet listening conditions.

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