Extending the limits of place and temporal pitch perception in cochlear implant users

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2011 Apr;12(2):233-51. doi: 10.1007/s10162-010-0248-x. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


A series of experiments investigated the effects of asymmetric current waveforms on the perception of place and temporal pitch cues. The asymmetric waveforms were trains of pseudomonophasic (PS) pulses consisting of a short, high-amplitude phase followed by a longer (and lower amplitude) opposite-polarity phase. When such pulses were presented in a narrow bipolar ("BP+1") mode and with the first phase anodic relative to the most apical electrode (so-called PSA pulses), pitch was lower than when the first phase was anodic re the more basal electrode. For a pulse rate of 12 pulses per second (pps), pitch was also lower than with standard symmetric biphasic pulses in either monopolar or bipolar mode. This suggests that PSA pulses can extend the range of place-pitch percepts available to cochlear implant listeners by focusing the spread of excitation in a more apical region than common stimulation techniques. Temporal pitch was studied by requiring subjects to pitch-rank single-channel pulse trains with rates ranging from 105 to 1,156 pps; this task was repeated at several intra-cochlear stimulation sites and using both symmetric and pseudomonophasic pulses. For PSA pulses presented to apical electrodes, the upper limit of temporal pitch was significantly higher than that for all the other conditions, averaging 713 pps. Measures of discriminability obtained using the method of constant stimuli indicated that this pitch percept was probably weak. However, a multidimensional scaling study showed that the percept associated with a rate change, even at high rates, was orthogonal to that of a place change and therefore reflected a genuine change in the temporal pattern of neural activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cochlea / physiopathology
  • Cochlea / surgery*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Loudness Perception / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Retrospective Studies