The effect of Gaussian noise on the threshold, dynamic range, and loudness of analogue cochlear implant stimuli

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2007 Mar;8(1):42-53. doi: 10.1007/s10162-006-0064-5. Epub 2006 Dec 12.


The deliberate addition of Gaussian noise to cochlear implant signals has previously been proposed to enhance the time coding of signals by the cochlear nerve. Potentially, the addition of an inaudible level of noise could also have secondary benefits: it could lower the threshold to the information-bearing signal, and by desynchronization of nerve discharges, it could increase the level at which the information-bearing signal becomes uncomfortable. Both these effects would lead to an increased dynamic range, which might be expected to enhance speech comprehension and make the choice of cochlear implant compression parameters less critical (as with a wider dynamic range, small changes in the parameters would have less effect on loudness). The hypothesized secondary effects were investigated with eight users of the Clarion cochlear implant; the stimulation was analogue and monopolar. For presentations in noise, noise at 95% of the threshold level was applied simultaneously and independently to all the electrodes. The noise was found in two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) experiments to decrease the threshold to sinusoidal stimuli (100 Hz, 1 kHz, 5 kHz) by about 2.0 dB and increase the dynamic range by 0.7 dB. Furthermore, in 2AFC loudness balance experiments, noise was found to decrease the loudness of moderate to intense stimuli. This suggests that loudness is partially coded by the degree of phase-locking of cochlear nerve fibers. The overall gain in dynamic range was modest, and more complex noise strategies, for example, using inhibition between the noise sources, may be required to get a clinically useful benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology
  • Deafness / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Loudness Perception / physiology*
  • Noise*
  • Normal Distribution
  • Psychophysics
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Stochastic Processes