Cochlear implant performance in difficult listening situations is limited by channel interactions. It is known that partial tripolar (PTP) stimulation reduces the spread of excitation (SOE). However, the greater the degree of current focusing, the greater the absolute current required to maintain a fixed loudness. As current increases, so does SOE. In experiment 1, the SOE for equally loud stimuli with different degrees of current focusing is measured via a forward-masking procedure. Results suggest that at a fixed loudness, some but not all patients have a reduced SOE with PTP stimulation. Therefore, it seems likely that a PTP speech processing strategy could improve spectral resolution for only those patients with a reduced SOE. In experiment 2, the ability to discriminate different levels of current focusing was measured. In experiment 3, patients subjectively scaled verbal descriptors of stimuli of various levels of current focusing. Both discrimination and scaling of verbal descriptors correlated well with SOE reduction, suggesting that either technique have the potential to be used clinically to quickly predict which patients would receive benefit from a current focusing strategy.
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