Pitch ranking with different virtual channel configurations in electrical hearing
Monopolar Virtual Channels (MPVCs) use current steering to increase the number of spectral channels provided to cochlear implant users beyond the physical number of electrodes. The current spread created with a current steered channel is similar to the spread found for monopolar stimulation, and this spread may be one of the bottlenecks for improved performance with an increased number of channels. Quadrupolar Virtual Channels (QPVCs) use current focusing in combination with steering in an attempt to increase the number of channels while reducing channel interaction. However, due to the potentially asymmetric current field generated by QPVCs, there may be distortions in the place pitch representation using this mode. A Virtual Tripole (VTP) is introduced as a current focused virtual channel with a relatively symmetrical electric field distribution. In this study, we looked at pitch ranking in cochlear implant users with QPVC, VTP, and MPVC configurations to determine if place pitch shifts similarly across the cochlea or if any of the stimulation modes shift non-monotonically. Results suggest that MPVC and VTP stimulation provide a consistent monotonic shift across cochlear positions while the place shift provided by QPVCs was more variable. The use of VTP stimulation would be recommended instead of QPVC for a speech processing strategy.