In recent years there has been an increasing percentage of cochlear implant (CI) users who have usable residual hearing in the contralateral, nonimplanted ear, typically aided by acoustic amplification. This raises the issue of the extent to which the signal presented through the cochlear implant may influence how listeners process information in the acoustically stimulated ear. This multicenter retrospective study examined pre- to postoperative changes in speech perception in the nonimplanted ear, the implanted ear, and both together. Results in the latter two conditions showed the expected increases, but speech perception in the nonimplanted ear showed a modest yet meaningful decrease that could not be completely explained by changes in unaided thresholds, hearing aid malfunction, or several other demographic variables. Decreases in speech perception in the nonimplanted ear were more likely in individuals who had better levels of speech perception in the implanted ear, and in those who had better speech perception in the implanted than in the nonimplanted ear. This raises the possibility that, in some cases, bimodal listeners may rely on the higher quality signal provided by the implant and may disregard or even neglect the input provided by the nonimplanted ear.
Keywords: auditory neglect; bimodal; cochlear implants; deafness; hearing aid; multicenter; speech perception.