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Audiol Neurootol. 2016;21(3):127-31. doi: 10.1159/000444740. Epub 2016 Apr 15.

Sound Source Localization by Normal-Hearing Listeners, Hearing-Impaired Listeners and Cochlear Implant Listeners.

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Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., USA.



Our primary aim was to determine whether listeners in the following patient groups achieve localization accuracy within the 95th percentile of accuracy shown by younger or older normal-hearing (NH) listeners: (1) hearing impaired with bilateral hearing aids, (2) bimodal cochlear implant (CI), (3) bilateral CI, (4) hearing preservation CI, (5) single-sided deaf CI and (6) combined bilateral CI and bilateral hearing preservation.


The listeners included 57 young NH listeners, 12 older NH listeners, 17 listeners fit with hearing aids, 8 bimodal CI listeners, 32 bilateral CI listeners, 8 hearing preservation CI listeners, 13 single-sided deaf CI listeners and 3 listeners with bilateral CIs and bilateral hearing preservation. Sound source localization was assessed in a sound-deadened room with 13 loudspeakers arrayed in a 180-degree arc.


The root mean square (rms) error for the NH listeners was 6 degrees. The 95th percentile was 11 degrees. Nine of 16 listeners with bilateral hearing aids achieved scores within the 95th percentile of normal. Only 1 of 64 CI patients achieved a score within that range. Bimodal CI listeners scored at a level near chance, as did the listeners with a single CI or a single NH ear. Listeners with (1) bilateral CIs, (2) hearing preservation CIs, (3) single-sided deaf CIs and (4) both bilateral CIs and bilateral hearing preservation, all showed rms error scores within a similar range (mean scores between 20 and 30 degrees of error).


Modern CIs do not restore a normal level of sound source localization for CI listeners with access to sound information from two ears.

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