Assessing the Relationship Between the Electrically Evoked Compound Action Potential and Speech Recognition Abilities in Bilateral Cochlear Implant Recipients

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Abstract

Objectives:

The primary objective of the present study was to examine the relationship between suprathreshold electrically evoked compound action potential (ECAP) measures and speech recognition abilities in bilateral cochlear implant listeners. We tested the hypothesis that the magnitude of ear differences in ECAP measures within a subject (right–left) could predict the difference in speech recognition performance abilities between that subject’s ears (right–left).

Design:

To better control for across-subject variables that contribute to speech understanding, the present study used a within-subject design. Subjects were 10 bilaterally implanted adult cochlear implant recipients. We measured ECAP amplitudes and slopes of the amplitude growth function in both ears for each subject. We examined how each of these measures changed when increasing the interphase gap of the biphasic pulses. Previous animal studies have shown correlations between these ECAP measures and auditory nerve survival. Speech recognition measures included speech reception thresholds for sentences in background noise, as well as phoneme discrimination in quiet and in noise.

Results:

Results showed that the between-ear difference (right–left) of one specific ECAP measure (increase in amplitude growth function slope as the interphase gap increased from 7 to 30 µs) was significantly related to the between-ear difference (right–left) in speech recognition. Frequency-specific response patterns for ECAP data and consonant transmission cues support the hypothesis that this particular ECAP measure may represent localized functional acuity.

Conclusions:

The results add to a growing body of literature suggesting that when using a well-controlled research design, there is evidence that underlying neural function is related to postoperative performance with a cochlear implant.

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