Audiovisual Temporal Processing in Postlingually Deafened Adults with Cochlear Implants.


For many cochlear implant (CI) users, visual cues are vitally important for interpreting the impoverished auditory speech information that an implant conveys. Although the temporal relationship between auditory and visual stimuli is crucial for how this information is integrated, audiovisual temporal processing in CI users is poorly understood. In this study, we tested unisensory (auditory alone, visual alone) and multisensory (audiovisual) temporal processing in postlingually deafened CI users (n = 48) and normal-hearing controls (n = 54) using simultaneity judgment (SJ) and temporal order judgment (TOJ) tasks. We varied the timing onsets between the auditory and visual components of either a syllable/viseme or a simple flash/beep pairing, and participants indicated either which stimulus appeared first (TOJ) or if the pair occurred simultaneously (SJ). Results indicate that temporal binding windows-the interval within which stimuli are likely to be perceptually 'bound'-are not significantly different between groups for either speech or non-speech stimuli. However, the point of subjective simultaneity for speech was less visually leading in CI users, who interestingly, also had improved visual-only TOJ thresholds. Further signal detection analysis suggests that this SJ shift may be due to greater visual bias within the CI group, perhaps reflecting heightened attentional allocation to visual cues.