Effect of Chronic Stimulation and Stimulus Level on Temporal Processing by Cochlear Implant Listeners.
A series of experiments investigated potential changes in temporal processing during the months following activation of a cochlear implant (CI) and as a function of stimulus level. Experiment 1 tested patients on the day of implant activation and 2 and 6 months later. All stimuli were presented using direct stimulation of a single apical electrode. The dependent variables were rate discrimination ratios (RDRs) for pulse trains with rates centred on 120 pulses per second (pps), obtained using an adaptive procedure, and a measure of the upper limit of temporal pitch, obtained using a pitch-ranking procedure. All stimuli were presented at their most comfortable level (MCL). RDRs decreased from 1.23 to 1.16 and the upper limit increased from 357 to 485 pps from 0 to 2 months post-activation, with no overall change from 2 to 6 months. Because MCLs and hence the testing level increased across sessions, two further experiments investigated whether the performance changes observed across sessions could be due to level differences. Experiment 2 re-tested a subset of subjects at 9 months post-activation, using current levels similar to those used at 0 months. Although the stimuli sounded softer, some subjects showed lower RDRs and/or higher upper limits at this re-test. Experiment 3 measured RDRs and the upper limit for a separate group of subjects at levels equal to 60 %, 80 % and 100 % of the dynamic range. RDRs decreased with increasing level. The upper limit increased with increasing level for most subjects, with two notable exceptions. Implications of the results for temporal plasticity are discussed, along with possible influences of the effects of level and of across-session learning.
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/3)