Behavioral Measures of Temporal Processing and Speech Perception in Cochlear Implant Users

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Abstract

Background:

Although most cochlear implant (CI) users achieve improvements in speech perception, there is still a wide variability in speech perception outcomes. There is a growing body of literature that supports the relationship between individual differences in temporal processing and speech perception performance in CI users. Previous psychophysical studies have emphasized the importance of temporal acuity for overall speech perception performance. Measurement of gap detection thresholds (GDTs) is the most common measure currently used to assess temporal resolution. However, most GDT studies completed with CI participants used direct electrical stimulation not acoustic stimulation and they used psychoacoustic research paradigms that are not easy to administer clinically. Therefore, it is necessary to determine if the variance in GDTs assessed with clinical measures of temporal processing such as the Randomized Gap Detection Test (RGDT) can be used to explain the variability in speech perception performance.

Purpose:

The primary goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between temporal processing and speech perception performance in CI users.

Research Design:

A correlational study investigating the relationship between behavioral GDTs (assessed with the RGDT or the Expanded Randomized Gap Detection Test) and commonly used speech perception measures (assessed with the Speech Recognition Test [SRT], Central Institute for the Deaf W-22 Word Recognition Test [W-22], Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant Test [CNC], Arizona Biomedical Sentence Recognition Test [AzBio], Bamford-Kowal-Bench Speech-in-Noise Test [BKB-SIN]).

Study Sample:

Twelve postlingually deafened adult CI users (24–83 yr) and ten normal-hearing (NH; 22–30 yr) adults participated in the study.

Data Collection and Analysis:

The data were collected in a sound-attenuated test booth. After measuring pure-tone thresholds, GDTs and speech perception performance were measured. The difference in performance between-participant groups on the aforementioned tests, as well as the correlation between GDTs and speech perception performance was examined. The correlations between participants' biologic factors, performance on the RGDT and speech perception measures were also explored.

Results:

Although some CI participants performed as well as the NH listeners, the majority of the CI participants displayed temporal processing impairments (GDTs > 20 msec) and poorer speech perception performance than NH participants. A statistically significant difference was found between the NH and CI test groups in GDTs and some speech tests (SRT, W-22, and BKB-SIN). For the CI group, there were significant correlations between GDTs and some measures of speech perception (CNC Phoneme, AzBio, BKB-SIN); however, no significant correlations were found between biographic factors and GDTs or speech perception performance.

Conclusions:

Results support the theory that the variability in temporal acuity in CI users contributes to the variability in speech performance. Results also indicate that it is reasonable to use the clinically available RGDT to identify CI users with temporal processing impairments for further appropriate rehabilitation.

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