Adding simultaneous stimulating channels to reduce power consumption in cochlear implants

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Sound coding strategies for Cochlear Implant (CI) listeners can be used to control the trade-off between speech performance and power consumption. Most commercial CI strategies use non-simultaneous channel stimulation, stimulating only one electrode at a time. One could add parallel simultaneous stimulating channels such that the electrical interaction between channels is increased. This would produce spectral smearing, because the electrical fields of the simultaneous stimulated channels interact, but also power savings. The parallel channels produce a louder sensation than sequential stimulation. To test this hypothesis we implemented different sound coding strategies using a research interface from Advanced Bionics: the commercial F120 strategy using sequential channel stimulation (one channel equals two electrodes with current steering) and the Paired strategy, consisting of simultaneous stimulation with two channels. Here, the electrical field of both channels will interact, requiring less current on each channel to perceive the same loudness as with F120. However, channel interaction between the independent channels may reduce speech recognition or understanding. This can be diminished by adding an inverse-polarity stimulation channel between both channels. This strategy is termed Paired with Flanks. Additionally, Triplet with three channels and an adjacent Flank style was investigated. For each strategy we measured speech intelligibility with the Hochmair-Schulz-Moser sentence test. Spectral resolution was assessed using a spectral modulation depth detection task. Results show that Paired without Flanks obtains similar performance while reducing the current by 20% on average compared to F120. Triplet with and without Flanks shows overall poorer performance when compared to F120. All strategies inhibit the option to increase the pulse width which would result in even further decreased power consumption.

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