Speech recognition as a function of the number of channels in perimodiolar electrode recipients.


This study investigated the number of channels needed for maximum speech understanding and sound quality in 30 adult cochlear implant (CI) recipients with perimodiolar electrode arrays verified via imaging to be completely within scala tympani (ST). Performance was assessed using a continuous interleaved sampling (CIS) strategy with 4, 8, 10, and 16 channels and n-of-m with 16 maxima. Listeners were administered auditory tasks of speech understanding [monosyllables, sentences (quiet and +5 dB signal-to-noise ratio, SNR), vowels, consonants], spectral modulation detection, as well as subjective estimates of sound quality. Results were as follows: (1) significant performance gains were observed for speech in quiet (monosyllables and sentences) with 16- as compared to 8-channel CIS, (2) 16 channels in a 16-of-m strategy yielded significantly higher outcomes than 16-channel CIS for sentences in noise (percent correct and subjective sound quality) and spectral modulation detection, (3) 16 channels in a 16-of-m strategy yielded significantly higher outcomes as compared to 8- and 10-channel CIS for monosyllables, sentences (quiet and noise), consonants, spectral modulation detection, and subjective sound quality, (4) 16 versus 8 maxima yielded significantly higher speech recognition for monosyllables and sentences in noise using an n-of-m strategy, and (5) the degree of benefit afforded by 16 versus 8 maxima was inversely correlated with mean electrode-to-modiolus distance. These data demonstrate greater channel independence with perimodiolar electrode arrays as compared to previous studies with straight electrodes and warrant further investigation of the minimum number of maxima and number of channels needed for maximum auditory outcomes.