Cochlear implant spectral bandwidth for optimizing electric and acoustic stimulation (EAS).


Cochlear implantation with acoustic hearing preservation is becoming increasingly prevalent allowing cochlear implant (CI) users to combine electric and acoustic stimulation (EAS) in the implanted ears. Despite a growing EAS population, our field does not have definitive guidance regarding EAS technology optimization and the majority of previous studies investigating hearing aid (HA) and cochlear implant (CI) programming for EAS listeners have been mixed. Thus, the purpose of this exploratory study was to explore the effects of various EAS crossover frequencies-defined as the low-frequency (LF) CI cutoff-relative to the underlying spiral ganglion (SG) characteristic frequency associated with the most distal or apical electrode in the array. Speech recognition in semi-diffuse noise and subjective estimates of listening difficulty were measured for 15 adult CI recipients with acoustic hearing preservation in three listening conditions: 1) CI-alone, 2) bimodal (CI+HA), and best-aided EAS (CIHA+HA). The results showed no effect of LF CI cutoff for any of the three listening conditions such that there was no trend for increased performance or less subjective listening difficulty across LF CI cutoffs, referenced to underlying SG-place frequency. Consistent with past studies, the current results were also consistent with significant speech recognition and subject listening difficulty benefits for both bimodal (CI+HA) and best-aided EAS (CIHA+HA) as compared to CI-alone listening as well as significant additional benefits for best-aided EAS (CIHA+HA) compared to bimodal hearing (CI+HA). Future studies are necessary to investigate the efficacy of SG-place-based fittings for i) large samples of experienced EAS listeners for whom perceptual adaptation has occurred to the frequency mismatch provided by standard CI frequency allocations, and ii) EAS users at or close to CI activation as place-based approaches may ultimately yield greater outcomes, particularly for newly activated CI users for whom SG-place-based approaches may afford a steeper trajectory to performance asymptote.