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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2012 Dec;121(12):782-91.

Accuracy of cochlear implant recipients in speech reception in the presence of background music.

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Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, School of Music, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1076, USA.



This study examined speech recognition abilities of cochlear implant (CI) recipients in the spectrally complex listening condition of 3 contrasting types of background music, and compared performance based upon listener groups: CI recipients using conventional long-electrode devices, Hybrid CI recipients (acoustic plus electric stimulation), and normal-hearing adults.


We tested 154 long-electrode CI recipients using varied devices and strategies, 21 Hybrid CI recipients, and 49 normal-hearing adults on closed-set recognition of spondees presented in 3 contrasting forms of background music (piano solo, large symphony orchestra, vocal solo with small combo accompaniment) in an adaptive test.


Signal-to-noise ratio thresholds for speech in music were examined in relation to measures of speech recognition in background noise and multitalker babble, pitch perception, and music experience.


The signal-to-noise ratio thresholds for speech in music varied as a function of category of background music, group membership (long-electrode, Hybrid, normal-hearing), and age. The thresholds for speech in background music were significantly correlated with measures of pitch perception and thresholds for speech in background noise; auditory status was an important predictor.


Evidence suggests that speech reception thresholds in background music change as a function of listener age (with more advanced age being detrimental), structural characteristics of different types of music, and hearing status (residual hearing). These findings have implications for everyday listening conditions such as communicating in social or commercial situations in which there is background music.

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