Abnormal binaural spectral integration in cochlear implant users

Lina A.J. Reiss, Rindy A. Ito, Jessica L. Eggleston, David R. Wozny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Bimodal stimulation, or stimulation of a cochlear implant (CI) together with a contralateral hearing aid (HA), can improve speech perception in noise However, this benefit is variable, and some individuals even experience interference with bimodal stimulation. One contributing factor to this variability may be differences in binaural spectral integration (BSI) due to abnormal auditory experience. CI programming introduces interaural pitch mismatches, in which the frequencies allocated to the electrodes (and contralateral HA) differ from the electrically stimulated cochlear frequencies. Previous studies have shown that some, but not all, CI users adapt pitch perception to reduce this mismatch. The purpose of this study was to determine whether broadened BSI may also reduce the perception of mismatch. Interaural pitch mismatches and dichotic pitch fusion ranges were measured in 21 bimodal CI users. Seventeen subjects with wide fusion ranges also conducted a task to pitch match various fused electrode-tone pairs. All subjects showed abnormally wide dichotic fusion frequency ranges of 1-4 octaves. The fusion range size was weakly correlated with the interaural pitch mismatch, suggesting a link between broad binaural pitch fusion and large interaural pitch mismatch. Dichotic pitch averaging was also observed, in which a new binaural pitch resulted from the fusion of the original monaural pitches, even when the pitches differed by as much as 3-4 octaves. These findings suggest that abnormal BSI, indicated by broadened fusion ranges and spectral averaging between ears, may account for speech perception interference and nonoptimal integration observed with bimodal compared with monaural hearing device use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • bimodal
  • cochlear implants
  • fusion
  • hearing aids
  • pitch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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