Median-plane sound localization as a function of the number of spectral channels using a channel vocoder

J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Feb;127(2):990-1001. doi: 10.1121/1.3283014.


Using a vocoder, median-plane sound localization performance was measured in eight normal-hearing listeners as a function of the number of spectral channels. The channels were contiguous and logarithmically spaced in the range from 0.3 to 16 kHz. Acutely testing vocoded stimuli showed significantly worse localization compared to noises and 100 pulses click trains, both of which were tested after feedback training. However, localization for the vocoded stimuli was better than chance. A second experiment was performed using two different 12-channel spacings for the vocoded stimuli, now including feedback training. One spacing was from experiment 1. The second spacing (called the speech-localization spacing) assigned more channels to the frequency range associated with speech. There was no significant difference in localization between the two spacings. However, even with training, localizing 12-channel vocoded stimuli remained worse than localizing virtual wideband noises by 4.8 degrees in local root-mean-square error and 5.2% in quadrant error rate. Speech understanding for the speech-localization spacing was not significantly different from that for a typical spacing used by cochlear-implant users. These experiments suggest that current cochlear implants have a sufficient number of spectral channels for some vertical-plane sound localization capabilities, albeit worse than normal-hearing listeners, without loss of speech understanding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Electronics / instrumentation*
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound Localization*
  • Speech
  • Young Adult