Aug 2019 Doc Wire News
This study compared spatial speech-in-noise performance in two cochlear implant (CI) patient groups: bimodal listeners, who use a hearing aid contra-laterally to support their impaired acoustic hearing, and listeners with contra-lateral normal hearing, i.e., who were single-sided deaf before implantation. Using a laboratory setting that controls for head movements and that simulates spatial acoustic scenes, speech reception thresholds were measured for frontal speech-in-stationary noise from the front, the left, or the right side. Spatial release from masking (SRM) was then extracted from speech reception thresholds for monaural and binaural listening. SRM was found to be significantly lower in bimodal CI than in CI single-sided deaf listeners. Within each listener group, the SRM extracted from monaural listening did not differ from the SRM extracted from binaural listening. In contrast, a normal-hearing control group showed a significant improvement in SRM when using two ears in comparison to one. Neither CI group showed a binaural summation effect; that is, their performance was not improved by using two devices instead of the best monaural device in each spatial scenario. The results confirm a “listening with the better ear” strategy in the two CI patient groups, where patients benefited from using two ears/devices instead of one by selectively attending to the better one. Which one is the better ear, however, depends on the spatial scenario and on the individual configuration of hearing loss.