No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article14 Jan 2021

Perceptual Learning of Vocoded Speech With and Without Contralateral Hearing: Implications for Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation


    An increasing number of individuals with residual or even normal contralateral hearing are being considered for cochlear implantation. It remains unknown whether the presence of contralateral hearing is beneficial or detrimental to their perceptual learning of cochlear implant (CI)–processed speech. The aim of this experiment was to provide a first insight into this question using acoustic simulations of CI processing.


    Sixty normal-hearing listeners took part in an auditory perceptual learning experiment. Each subject was randomly assigned to one of three groups of 20 referred to as NORMAL, LOWPASS, and NOTHING. The experiment consisted of two test phases separated by a training phase. In the test phases, all subjects were tested on recognition of monosyllabic words passed through a six-channel “PSHC” vocoder presented to a single ear. In the training phase, which consisted of listening to a 25-min audio book, all subjects were also presented with the same vocoded speech in one ear but the signal they received in their other ear differed across groups. The NORMAL group was presented with the unprocessed speech signal, the LOWPASS group with a low-pass filtered version of the speech signal, and the NOTHING group with no sound at all.


    The improvement in speech scores following training was significantly smaller for the NORMAL than for the LOWPASS and NOTHING groups.


    This study suggests that the presentation of normal speech in the contralateral ear reduces or slows down perceptual learning of vocoded speech but that an unintelligible low-pass filtered contralateral signal does not have this effect. Potential implications for the rehabilitation of CI patients with partial or full contralateral hearing are discussed.


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