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Acta Otolaryngol. 2016 Jul;136(7):692-8. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2016.1155232. Epub 2016 Mar 24.

Improvement of sound source localization abilities in patients bilaterally supplied with active middle ear implants.

Author information

a Department for Hearing, Speech and Voice Disorders , Medical University of Innsbruck , Innsbruck , Austria ;
b Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Clinic St. Pölten , St. Pölten , Austria.



Patients, who are bilaterally supplied with active middle ear implants, perform slightly better in sound localization tasks than when unilaterally aided or unaided.


To investigate the impact of bilateral use of active middle ear implants on sound source localization in the horizontal plane in patients with a sloping moderate-to-severe hearing loss.


Ten adults supplied with Med-EL Vibrant Soundbridge systems (VSB) in both ears participated in the study. Four listening conditions were tested: unaided, aided with VSB on left or right ear and on both sides. In each condition the subjects had to judge the direction of broadband noises delivered randomly across a semicircular array of 11 loudspeakers arranged in an anechoic chamber.


When unaided or bilaterally aided, the subjects localized on average 40% of the stimuli correct; when unilaterally aided (left or right), this rate dropped to 20-30% in either condition. Precision of sound localization was highest when bilaterally aided, i.e. the mean RMS angular error was 10°, and lowest when unilaterally aided, i.e. 15°. This is in line with bilateral hearing aid users, who show similar performance in sound localization tasks.


Middle ear implant; Vibrant Soundbridge; bilateral implant; sound source localization

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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