Pitch Matching between Electrical Stimulation of a Cochlear Implant and Acoustic Stimuli Presented to a Contralateral Ear with Residual Hearing

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Abstract

Background:

Cochlear implants (CIs) successfully restore hearing in postlingually deaf adults, but in doing so impose a frequency-position function in the cochlea that may differ from the physiological one.

Purpose:

The CI-imposed frequency-position function is determined by the frequency allocation table programmed into the listener's speech processor and by the location of the electrode array along the cochlea. To what extent can postlingually deaf CI users successfully adapt to the difference between physiological and CI-imposed frequency-position functions?

Research Design:

We attempt to answer the question by combining behavioral measures of electroacoustic pitch matching (PM) and measures of electrode location within the cochlea.

Study Sample:

The participants in this study were 16 adult CI users with residual hearing who could match the pitch of acoustic pure tones presented to their unimplanted ears to the pitch resulting from stimulation of different CI electrodes.

Data Collection and Analysis:

We obtained data for four to eight apical electrodes from 16 participants with CIs (most of whom were long-term users), and estimated electrode insertion angle for 12 of these participants. PM functions in this group were compared with the two frequency-position functions discussed above.

Results:

Taken together, the findings were consistent with the possibility that adaptation to the frequency-position function imposed by CIs does happen, but it is not always complete.

Conclusions:

Some electrodes continue to be perceived as higher pitched than the acoustic frequencies with which they are associated despite years of listening experience after cochlear implantation.

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