Speech recognition as a function of the number of channels for an array with large inter-electrode distances.


This study investigated the number of channels available to cochlear implant (CI) recipients for maximum speech understanding and sound quality for lateral wall electrode arrays-which result in large electrode-to-modiolus distances-featuring the greatest inter-electrode distances (2.1-2.4 mm), the longest active lengths (23.1-26.4 mm), and the fewest number of electrodes commercially available. Participants included ten post-lingually deafened adult CI recipients with MED-EL electrode arrays (FLEX28 and STANDARD) entirely within scala tympani. Electrode placement and scalar location were determined using computerized tomography. The number of channels was varied from 4 to 12 with equal spatial distribution across the array. A continuous interleaved sampling-based strategy was used. Speech recognition, sound quality ratings, and a closed-set vowel recognition task were measured acutely for each electrode condition. Participants did not demonstrate statistically significant differences beyond eight channels at the group level for almost all measures. However, several listeners showed considerable improvements from 8 to 12 channels for speech and sound quality measures. These results suggest that channel interaction caused by the greater electrode-to-modiolus distances of straight electrode arrays could be partially compensated for by a large inter-electrode distance or spacing.