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Trimodal speech perception: how residual acoustic hearing supplements cochlear-implant consonant recognition in the presence of visual cues

Trimodal speech perception: how residual acoustic hearing supplements cochlear-implant consonant recognition in the presence of visual cues

Ear and Hearing 36(3): E99-112

As cochlear implant (CI) acceptance increases and candidacy criteria are expanded, these devices are increasingly recommended for individuals with less than profound hearing loss. As a result, many individuals who receive a CI also retain acoustic hearing, often in the low frequencies, in the nonimplanted ear (i.e., bimodal hearing) and in some cases in the implanted ear (i.e., hybrid hearing) which can enhance the performance achieved by the CI alone. However, guidelines for clinical decisions pertaining to cochlear implantation are largely based on expectations for postsurgical speech-reception performance with the CI alone in auditory-only conditions. A more comprehensive prediction of postimplant performance would include the expected effects of residual acoustic hearing and visual cues on speech understanding. An evaluation of auditory-visual performance might be particularly important because of the complementary interaction between the speech information relayed by visual cues and that contained in the low-frequency auditory signal. The goal of this study was to characterize the benefit provided by residual acoustic hearing to consonant identification under auditory-alone and auditory-visual conditions for CI users. Additional information regarding the expected role of residual hearing in overall communication performance by a CI listener could potentially lead to more informed decisions regarding cochlear implantation, particularly with respect to recommendations for or against bilateral implantation for an individual who is functioning bimodally. Eleven adults 23 to 75 years old with a unilateral CI and air-conduction thresholds in the nonimplanted ear equal to or better than 80 dB HL for at least one octave frequency between 250 and 1000 Hz participated in this study. Consonant identification was measured for conditions involving combinations of electric hearing (via the CI), acoustic hearing (via the nonimplanted ear), and speechreading (visual cues). The results suggest that the benefit to CI consonant-identification performance provided by the residual acoustic hearing is even greater when visual cues are also present. An analysis of consonant confusions suggests that this is because the voicing cues provided by the residual acoustic hearing are highly complementary with the mainly place-of-articulation cues provided by the visual stimulus. These findings highlight the need for a comprehensive prediction of trimodal (acoustic, electric, and visual) postimplant speech-reception performance to inform implantation decisions. The increased influence of residual acoustic hearing under auditory-visual conditions should be taken into account when considering surgical procedures or devices that are intended to preserve acoustic hearing in the implanted ear. This is particularly relevant when evaluating the candidacy of a current bimodal CI user for a second CI (i.e., bilateral implantation). Although recent developments in CI technology and surgical techniques have increased the likelihood of preserving residual acoustic hearing, preservation cannot be guaranteed in each individual case. Therefore, the potential gain to be derived from bilateral implantation needs to be weighed against the possible loss of the benefit provided by residual acoustic hearing.

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Accession: 059174416

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25514796

DOI: 10.1097/aud.0000000000000131

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