Assessing the relationship between neural health measures and speech performance with simultaneous electric stimulation in cochlear implant listeners.
ObjectivesThe relationship between electrode-nerve interface (ENI) estimates and inter-subject differences in speech performance with sequential and simultaneous channel stimulation in adult cochlear implant listeners were explored. We investigated the hypothesis that individuals with good ENIs would perform better with simultaneous compared to sequential channel stimulation speech processing strategies than those estimated to have poor ENIs.
MethodsFourteen postlingually deaf implanted cochlear implant users participated in the study. Speech understanding was assessed with a sentence test at signal-to-noise ratios that resulted in 50% performance for each user with the baseline strategy F120 Sequential. Two simultaneous stimulation strategies with either two (Paired) or three sets of virtual channels (Triplet) were tested at the same signal-to-noise ratio. ENI measures were estimated through: (I) voltage spread with electrical field imaging, (II) behavioral detection thresholds with focused stimulation, and (III) slope (IPG slope effect) and 50%-point differences (dB offset effect) of amplitude growth functions from electrically evoked compound action potentials with two interphase gaps.
ResultsA significant effect of strategy on speech understanding performance was found, with Triplets showing a trend towards worse speech understanding performance than sequential stimulation. Focused thresholds correlated positively with the difference required to reach most comfortable level (MCL) between Sequential and Triplet strategies, an indirect measure of channel interaction. A significant offset effect (difference in dB between 50%-point for higher eCAP growth function slopes with two IPGs) was observed. No significant correlation was observed between the slopes for the two IPGs tested. None of the measures used in this study correlated with the differences in speech understanding scores between strategies.
ConclusionsThe ENI measure based on behavioral focused thresholds could explain some of the difference in MCLs, but none of the ENI measures could explain the decrease in speech understanding with increasing pairs of simultaneously stimulated electrodes in processing strategies.