Srinivasan, S., Laback, B., Majdak, P., Delgutte, B. (2018): Introducing Short Interpulse Intervals in High-Rate Pulse Trains Enhances Binaural Timing Sensitivity in Electric Hearing, in: Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 19, 301-315. (article)

    Abstract:

    Common envelope-based stimulation strategies for cochlear implants (CIs) use relatively high carrier rates in order to properly encode the speech envelope. For such rates, CI listeners show poor sensitivity to interaural time differences (ITDs), which are important for horizontal-plane sound localization and spatial unmasking of speech. Based on the findings from previous studies, we predicted that ITD sensitivity can be enhanced by including pulses with short interpulse intervals (SIPIs), to a 1000-pulses-per-second (pps) reference pulse train. We measured the sensitivity of eight bilateral CI listeners to ITD while systematically varying both the rate at which SIPIs are introduced (``SIPI rate'') and the time interval between the two pulses forming a SIPI (``SIPI fraction''). Results showed largely enhanced ITD sensitivity relative to the reference condition, with the size of the improvement increasing with decreasing SIPI rate and decreasing SIPI fraction. For the lowest SIPI fraction, insertion of extra pulses brought ITD sensitivity to the level measured for low-rate pulse trains with rates matching the SIPI rates. The results appear promising for the goal of enhancing ITD sensitivity with envelope-based CI strategies by inserting SIPI pulses at strategic times in speech stimuli.

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