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Hear Res. 2012 Apr;286(1-2):19-29.

Improving virtual channel discrimination in a multi-channel context.

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Department of Communication and Auditory Neuroscience, House Research Institute, 2100 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA.


Improving spectral resolution in cochlear implants is key to improving performance in difficult listening conditions (e.g. speech in noise, music, etc.). Current focusing might reduce channel interaction, thereby increasing spectral resolution. Previous studies have shown that combining current steering and current focusing reduces spread of excitation and improves virtual channel discrimination in a single-channel context. It is unclear whether the single-channel benefits from current focusing extend to a multi-channel context, in which the physical and perceptual interference of multiple stimulated channels might overwhelm the benefits of improved spectral resolution. In this study, signal discrimination was measured with and without current focusing, in the presence of competing stimuli on nearby electrodes. Results showed that signal discrimination was consistently better with current focusing than without, regardless of the amplitude of the competing stimuli. Therefore, combining current steering and current focusing may provide more effective spectral cues than are currently available.

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