The benefits of bimodal hearing: effect of frequency region and acoustic bandwidth.


We examined the effects of acoustic bandwidth on bimodal benefit for speech recognition in adults with a cochlear implant (CI) in one ear and low-frequency acoustic hearing in the contralateral ear. The primary aims were to (1) replicate Zhang et al. [Ear Hear 2010;31:63-69] with a steeper filter roll-off to examine the low-pass bandwidth required to obtain bimodal benefit for speech recognition and expand results to include different signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) and talker genders, (2) determine whether the bimodal benefit increased with acoustic low-pass bandwidth and (3) determine whether an equivalent bimodal benefit was obtained with acoustic signals of similar low-pass and pass band bandwidth, but different center frequencies. Speech recognition was assessed using words presented in quiet and sentences in noise (+10, +5 and 0 dB SNRs). Acoustic stimuli presented to the nonimplanted ear were filtered into the following bands: <125, 125-250, <250, 250-500, <500, 250-750, <750 Hz and wide-band (full, nonfiltered bandwidth). The primary findings were: (1) the minimum acoustic low-pass bandwidth that produced a significant bimodal benefit was <250 Hz for male talkers in quiet and for female talkers in multitalker babble, but <125 Hz for male talkers in background noise, and the observed bimodal benefit did not vary significantly with SNR; (2) the bimodal benefit increased systematically with acoustic low-pass bandwidth up to <750 Hz for a male talker in quiet and female talkers in noise and up to <500 Hz for male talkers in noise, and (3) a similar bimodal benefit was obtained with low-pass and band-pass-filtered stimuli with different center frequencies (e.g. <250 vs. 250-500 Hz), meaning multiple frequency regions contain useful cues for bimodal benefit. Clinical implications are that (1) all aidable frequencies should be amplified in individuals with bimodal hearing, and (2) verification of audibility at 125 Hz is unnecessary unless it is the only aidable frequency. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.