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Simultaneous Assessment of Speech Identification and Spatial Discrimination: A Potential Testing Approach for Bilateral Cochlear Implant Users?

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Bizley, Jennifer K 
Elliott, Naomi 
Wood, Katherine C 
Vickers, Deborah A 


With increasing numbers of children and adults receiving bilateral cochlear implants, there is an urgent need for assessment tools that enable testing of binaural hearing abilities. Current test batteries are either limited in scope or are of an impractical duration for routine testing. Here, we report a behavioral test that enables combined testing of speech identification and spatial discrimination in noise. In this task, multitalker babble was presented from all speakers, and pairs of speech tokens were sequentially presented from two adjacent speakers. Listeners were required to identify both words from a closed set of four possibilities and to determine whether the second token was presented to the left or right of the first. In Experiment 1, normal-hearing adult listeners were tested at 15° intervals throughout the frontal hemifield. Listeners showed highest spatial discrimination performance in and around the frontal midline, with a decline at more eccentric locations. In contrast, speech identification abilities were least accurate near the midline and showed an improvement in performance at more lateral locations. In Experiment 2, normal-hearing listeners were assessed using a restricted range of speaker locations designed to match those found in clinical testing environments. Here, speakers were separated by 15° around the midline and 30° at more lateral locations. This resulted in a similar pattern of behavioral results as in Experiment 1. We conclude, this test offers the potential to assess both spatial discrimination and the ability to use spatial information for unmasking in clinical populations.



cochlear implant, hearing impaired, localization, normal hearing, speech, Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Audiometry, Pure-Tone, Cochlear Implantation, Cochlear Implants, Cohort Studies, Female, Hearing Loss, Bilateral, Humans, Intraoperative Care, Male, Pitch Discrimination, Reference Values, Sound Localization, Speech Perception, Young Adult

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Trends Hear

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SAGE Publications