Training spatial hearing in unilateral cochlear implant users through reaching to sounds in virtual reality

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2023 Aug;280(8):3661-3672. doi: 10.1007/s00405-023-07886-1. Epub 2023 Mar 11.


Background and purpose: Use of unilateral cochlear implant (UCI) is associated with limited spatial hearing skills. Evidence that training these abilities in UCI user is possible remains limited. In this study, we assessed whether a Spatial training based on hand-reaching to sounds performed in virtual reality improves spatial hearing abilities in UCI users METHODS: Using a crossover randomized clinical trial, we compared the effects of a Spatial training protocol with those of a Non-Spatial control training. We tested 17 UCI users in a head-pointing to sound task and in an audio-visual attention orienting task, before and after each training. <br>Study is recorded in (NCT04183348).

Results: During the Spatial VR training, sound localization errors in azimuth decreased. Moreover, when comparing head-pointing to sounds before vs. after training, localization errors decreased after the Spatial more than the control training. No training effects emerged in the audio-visual attention orienting task.

Conclusions: Our results showed that sound localization in UCI users improves during a Spatial training, with benefits that extend also to a non-trained sound localization task (generalization). These findings have potentials for novel rehabilitation procedures in clinical contexts.

Keywords: Active listening; Cochlear implant; Head movements; Reaching; Spatial hearing; VR training; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cochlear Implantation* / methods
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Hearing
  • Hearing Tests / methods
  • Humans
  • Sound Localization*
  • Speech Perception*

Associated data