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Effect of Return Electrode Placement at Apical Cochleostomy on Current Flow With a Cochlear Implant

Landsberger, David M; Long, Christopher J; Kirk, Jonathon R; Stupak, Natalia; Roland, J Thomas
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:A method for stimulating the cochlear apex using perimodiolar electrode arrays is described. This method involves implanting an electrode (ECE1) into the helioctrema in addition to standard cochlear implant placement. One objective is to verify a suitable approach for implanting ECE1 in the helicotrema. Another is to determine how placement of ECE1 reshapes electric fields. DESIGN/METHODS:Two cadaveric half-heads were implanted, and electric voltage tomography was measured with ECE1 placed in many positions. RESULTS:An approach for placing ECE1 was identified. Changes in electric fields were only observed when ECE1 was placed into the fluid in the helicotrema. When inside the helicotrema, electric voltage tomography modeling suggests an increased current flow toward the apex. CONCLUSIONS:Placement of ECE1 into the cochlear apex is clinically feasible and has the potential to reshape electric fields to stimulate regions of the cochlea more apical than those represented by the electrode array.
PMID: 38047764
ISSN: 1538-4667
CID: 5595192

Acceptance and Benefit of Electroacoustic Stimulation in Children

Spitzer, Emily R; Kay-Rivest, Emily; Waltzman, Susan B; O'Brien-Russo, Colleen A; Santacatterina, Michele; Roland, J Thomas; Landsberger, David M; Friedmann, David R
OBJECTIVE:Children with high-frequency severe-to-profound hearing loss and low-frequency residual hearing who do not derive significant benefit from hearing aids are now being considered for cochlear implantation. Previous research shows that hearing preservation is possible and may be desirable for the use of electroacoustic stimulation (EAS) in adults, but this topic remains underexplored in children. The goal of this study was to explore factors relating to hearing preservation, acceptance, and benefits of EAS for children. STUDY DESIGN:Retrospective review. SETTING:Tertiary academic medical center. PATIENTS:Forty children (48 ears) with preoperative low-frequency pure-tone averages of 75 dB HL or less at 250 and 500 Hz (n = 48). INTERVENTION:All patients underwent cochlear implantation with a standard-length electrode. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:Low-frequency audiometric thresholds, speech perception, and EAS usage were measured at initial stimulation, and 3 and 12 months postoperatively. Outcomes were compared between children with and without hearing preservation, and between EAS users and nonusers. RESULTS:Hearing was preserved at similar rates as adults but worse for children with an enlarged vestibular aqueduct. Fewer than half of children who qualified to use EAS chose to do so, citing a variety of audiologic and nonaudiologic reasons. No differences were detected in speech perception scores across the groups for words, sentences, or sentences in noise tests. CONCLUSIONS:Neither hearing preservation nor EAS use resulted in superior speech perception in children with preoperative residual hearing; rather, all children performed well after implantation.
PMID: 37167445
ISSN: 1537-4505
CID: 5503372

Stimulating the Cochlear Apex Without Longer Electrodes: Preliminary Results With a New Approach

Landsberger, David M; Stupak, Natalia; Spitzer, Emily R; Entwisle, Lavin; Mahoney, Laurel; Waltzman, Susan B; McMenomey, Sean; Friedmann, David R; Svirsky, Mario A; Shapiro, William; Roland, J Thomas
OBJECTIVE:To investigate a new surgical and signal processing technique that provides apical stimulation of the cochlea using a cochlear implant without extending the length of the electrode array. PATIENTS/METHODS:Three adult patients who underwent cochlear implantation using this new technique. INTERVENTIONS/METHODS:The patients received a cochlear implant. The surgery differed from the standard approach in that a ground electrode was placed in the cochlear helicotrema via an apical cochleostomy rather than in its typical location underneath the temporalis muscle. Clinical fitting was modified such that low frequencies were represented using the apically placed electrode as a ground. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES/METHODS:Pitch scaling and speech recognition. RESULTS:All surgeries were successful with no complications. Pitch scaling demonstrated that use of the apically placed electrode as a ground lowered the perceived pitch of electric stimulation relative to monopolar stimulation. Speech understanding was improved compared with preoperative scores. CONCLUSIONS:The new surgical approach and clinical fitting are feasible. A lower pitch is perceived when using the apically placed electrode as a ground relative to stimulation using an extracochlear ground (i.e., monopolar mode), suggesting that stimulation can be provided more apically without the use of a longer electrode array. Further work is required to determine potential improvements in outcomes and optimal signal processing for the new approach.
PMID: 35283466
ISSN: 1537-4505
CID: 5213392

Musical Interval Perception With a Cochlear Implant Alone and With a Contralateral Normal Hearing Ear

Landsberger, David M; Stupak, Natalia; Dahl, Cori; Aronoff, Justin M
Music through a cochlear implant (CI) is described as out-of-tune, suggesting that musical intervals are not accurately provided by a CI. One potential reason is that pitch may be insufficiently conveyed to provide reliable intervals. Another potential reason is that the size of intervals is distorted through a CI as they would be when produced by a mistuned piano. To measure intervals through a CI, listeners selected prerecorded vowels with different fundamental frequencies to represent each note in Happy Birthday. Each listener had contralateral normal hearing (NH); repeating the experiment with their NH ear allowed for a within-subject control. Additionally, the effect of listening simultaneously to both a CI and NH ear was measured. The resulting versions of Happy Birthday were analyzed in terms of their contours, interval sizes, magnitudes, consistency, and direction. Intervals with NH ears ranged from perfect to uncorrelated with target intervals. Chosen interval size with the CI was poorer than with the NH ear for all subjects. Across listeners, chosen intervals with the CI ranged from highly correlated to uncorrelated with target intervals. That CI intervals were highly correlated with target intervals for some listeners suggests that accurate intervals can be provided through a CI. For some listeners, chosen intervals were larger than target intervals, suggesting that intervals may be perceived as too small. Overall, intervals with the combination of the NH and CI ears were similar to those with the NH ear alone, suggesting that the addition of a CI has little-to-no effect on interval perception.
PMID: 36464788
ISSN: 2331-2165
CID: 5382822

Evaluation of a Tool for Measuring Temporal Modulation Detection

Landsberger, David M; Stupak, Natalia
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:A software tool (EasyMDT) that measures temporal modulation detection thresholds of a broadband noise carrier is presented. EasyMDT is designed to be both easy and quick to promote the use in environments where testing time is limited, and testers may not have extensive technical expertise to use typical research software. In addition, by providing a standardized stimulus and protocol, data collected by all groups using the software can be compared directly. Details of EasyMDT, including a description of the protocol, stimuli, interface and how to obtain the software, are provided along with representative sample data from both normal-hearing listeners and cochlear implant (CI) users. Performance with the EasyMDT is compared with speech understanding metrics as well as a metric of spectral-temporal resolution. DESIGN/METHODS:A "Full Curve" of modulation detection thresholds is measured using a three-interval forced-choice adaptive task in a single block for 7 modulation frequencies (10, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and 300 Hz). Similarly, the modulation detection thresholds were measured for only one modulation frequency in a block (either 100 Hz or 150 Hz). Modulation detection thresholds and block duration were recorded. In addition, performance on speech recognition tasks (CNC words, consonant identification, vowel identification, and AzBio sentences in noise) and a spectral-temporal resolution task (SMRT; Aronoff and Landsberger) were measured. Modulation detection thresholds were measured for both normal-hearing listeners and CI users. Only CI users participated in the speech and spectral-temporal tests. RESULTS:Modulation detection thresholds measured with EasyMDT were consistent with those previously reported from other laboratories. Modulation detection thresholds at a single modulation frequency (100 Hz or 150 Hz) were predictive of modulation detection thresholds measured as part of the Full Curve consisting of all 7 modulation frequencies. Testing durations for CI users dropped from an average of over 18 minutes for the Full Curve to under 3 minutes for either of the single modulation frequency measures. Modulation detection thresholds at 100 Hz correlated with CNC words, consonant identification, and AzBio sentences in noise, but not vowel identification. No correlations were found between modulation detection and spectral-temporal resolution. CONCLUSIONS:The EasyMDT is designed to be an easy-to-use tool that provides a nonlinguistic measure that can predict speech understanding. The test duration is short enough that it can be incorporated into clinical practice or as part of an experimental battery. The software is available for free download at The software is designed to have a minimum barrier of entry as well as provide a standardized protocol allowing direct comparison of modulation detection thresholds across studies and groups.
PMID: 34380982
ISSN: 1538-4667
CID: 5189902

Listening to speech with a guinea pig-to-human brain-to-brain interface

Richter, Claus-Peter; La Faire, Petrina; Tan, Xiaodong; Fiebig, Pamela; Landsberger, David M; Micco, Alan G
Nicolelis wrote in his 2003 review on brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that the design of a successful BMI relies on general physiological principles describing how neuronal signals are encoded. Our study explored whether neural information exchanged between brains of different species is possible, similar to the information exchange between computers. We show for the first time that single words processed by the guinea pig auditory system are intelligible to humans who receive the processed information via a cochlear implant. We recorded the neural response patterns to single-spoken words with multi-channel electrodes from the guinea inferior colliculus. The recordings served as a blueprint for trains of biphasic, charge-balanced electrical pulses, which a cochlear implant delivered to the cochlear implant user's ear. Study participants completed a four-word forced-choice test and identified the correct word in 34.8% of trials. The participants' recognition, defined by the ability to choose the same word twice, whether right or wrong, was 53.6%. For all sessions, the participants received no training and no feedback. The results show that lexical information can be transmitted from an animal to a human auditory system. In the discussion, we will contemplate how learning from the animals might help developing novel coding strategies.
PMID: 34112826
ISSN: 2045-2322
CID: 4924582

The Perception of Ramped Pulse Shapes in Cochlear Implant Users

Navntoft, Charlotte Amalie; Landsberger, David M; Barkat, Tania Rinaldi; Marozeau, Jeremy
The electric stimulation provided by current cochlear implants (CI) is not power efficient. One underlying problem is the poor efficiency by which information from electric pulses is transformed into auditory nerve responses. A novel stimulation paradigm using ramped pulse shapes has recently been proposed to remedy this inefficiency. The primary motivation is a better biophysical fit to spiral ganglion neurons with ramped pulses compared to the rectangular pulses used in most contemporary CIs. Here, we tested the hypotheses that ramped pulses provide more efficient stimulation compared to rectangular pulses and that a rising ramp is more efficient than a declining ramp. Rectangular, rising ramped and declining ramped pulse shapes were compared in terms of charge efficiency and discriminability, and threshold variability in seven CI listeners. The tasks included single-channel threshold detection, loudness-balancing, discrimination of pulse shapes, and threshold measurement across the electrode array. Results showed that reduced charge, but increased peak current amplitudes, was required at threshold and most comfortable levels with ramped pulses relative to rectangular pulses. Furthermore, only one subject could reliably discriminate between equally-loud ramped and rectangular pulses, suggesting variations in neural activation patterns between pulse shapes in that participant. No significant difference was found between rising and declining ramped pulses across all tests. In summary, the present findings show some benefits of charge efficiency with ramped pulses relative to rectangular pulses, that the direction of a ramped slope is of less importance, and that most participants could not perceive a difference between pulse shapes.
PMID: 34935552
ISSN: 2331-2165
CID: 5147212

Melodic interval perception with acoustic and electric hearing in bimodal and single-sided deaf cochlear implant listeners

Spitzer, Emily R; Galvin, John J; Friedmann, David R; Landsberger, David M
Two notes sounded sequentially elicit melodic intervals and contours that form the basis of melody. Many previous studies have characterized pitch perception in cochlear implant (CI) users to be poor which may be due to the limited spectro-temporal resolution and/or spectral warping with electric hearing compared to acoustic hearing (AH). Poor pitch perception in CIs has been shown to distort melodic interval perception. To characterize this interval distortion, we recruited CI users with either normal (single sided deafness, SSD) or limited (bimodal) AH in the non-implanted ear. The contralateral AH allowed for a stable reference with which to compare melodic interval perception in the CI ear, within the same listener. Melodic interval perception was compared across acoustic and electric hearing in 9 CI listeners (4 bimodal and 5 SSD). Participants were asked to rank the size of a probe interval presented to the CI ear to a reference interval presented to the contralateral AH ear using a method of constant stimuli. Ipsilateral interval ranking was also measured within the AH ear to ensure that listeners understood the task and that interval ranking was stable and accurate within AH. Stimuli were delivered to the AH ear via headphones and to the CI ear via direct audio input (DAI) to participants' clinical processors. During testing, a reference and probe interval was presented and participants indicated which was larger. Ten comparisons for each reference-probe combination were presented. Psychometric functions were fit to the data to determine the probe interval size that matched the reference interval. Across all AH reference intervals, the mean matched CI interval was 1.74 times larger than the AH reference. However, there was great inter-subject variability. For some participants, CI interval distortion varied across different reference AH intervals; for others, CI interval distortion was constant. Within the AH ear, ipsilateral interval ranking was accurate, ensuring that participants understood the task. No significant differences in the patterns of results were observed between bimodal and SSD CI users. The present data show that much larger intervals were needed with the CI to match contralateral AH reference intervals. As such, input melodic patterns are likely to be perceived as frequency compressed and/or warped with electric hearing, with less variation among notes in the pattern. The high inter-subject variability in CI interval distortion suggests that CI signal processing should be optimized for individual CI users.
PMID: 33310263
ISSN: 1878-5891
CID: 4735022

Assessing the Quality of Low-Frequency Acoustic Hearing: Implications for Combined Electroacoustic Stimulation With Cochlear Implants

Spitzer, Emily R; Landsberger, David M; Friedmann, David R
OBJECTIVES:There are many potential advantages to combined electric and acoustic stimulation (EAS) with a cochlear implant (CI), including benefits for hearing in noise, localization, frequency selectivity, and music enjoyment. However, performance on these outcome measures is variable, and the residual acoustic hearing may not be beneficial for all patients. As such, we propose a measure of spectral resolution that might be more predictive of the usefulness of the residual hearing than the audiogram alone. In the following experiments, we measured performance on spectral resolution and speech perception tasks in individuals with normal hearing (NH) using low-pass filters to simulate steeply sloping audiograms of typical EAS candidates and compared it with performance on these tasks for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss with similar audiometric configurations. Because listeners with NH had similar levels of audibility and bandwidth to listeners with hearing loss, differences between the groups could be attributed to distortions due to hearing loss. DESIGN:Listeners with NH (n = 12) and those with hearing loss (n = 23) with steeply sloping audiograms participated in this study. The group with hearing loss consisted of 7 EAS users, 14 hearing aid users, and 3 who did not use amplification in the test ear. Spectral resolution was measured with the spectral-temporal modulated ripple test (SMRT), and speech perception was measured with AzBio sentences in quiet and noise. Listeners with NH listened to stimuli through low-pass filters and at two levels (40 and 60 dBA) to simulate low and high audibility. Listeners with hearing loss listened to SMRT stimuli unaided at their most comfortable listening level and speech stimuli at 60 dBA. RESULTS:Results suggest that performance with SMRT is significantly worse for listeners with hearing loss than for listeners with NH and is not related to audibility. Performance on the speech perception task declined with decreasing frequency information for both listeners with NH and hearing loss. Significant correlations were observed between speech perception, SMRT scores, and mid-frequency audiometric thresholds for listeners with hearing loss. CONCLUSIONS:NH simulations describe a "best case scenario" for hearing loss where audibility is the only deficit. For listeners with hearing loss, the likely broadening of auditory filters, loss of cochlear nonlinearities, and possible cochlear dead regions may have contributed to distorted spectral resolution and thus deviations from the NH simulations. Measures of spectral resolution may capture an aspect of hearing loss not evident from the audiogram and be a useful tool for assessing the contributions of residual hearing post-cochlear implantation.
PMID: 32976249
ISSN: 1538-4667
CID: 4807062

Place-Pitch Interval Perception With a Cochlear Implant

Stupak, Natalia; Todd, Ann E; Landsberger, David M
OBJECTIVES:Pitch is poorly perceived by cochlear implant (CI) users. However, as it is not well understood how pitch is encoded with electric stimulation, improving pitch representation with a CI is challenging. Changes in place of stimulation along the cochlea have been described as changes in pitch and can be accurately ranked by CI users. However, it remains unknown if place-pitch can be used to encode musical intervals, which are a necessary attribute of pitch. The objective of these experiments is to determine if place-pitch coding can be used to represent musical intervals with a CI. DESIGN:In the first experiment, 10 CI users and 10 normal hearing (NH) controls were tested on their sensitivity to changes in the semitone spacing between each of the notes in the melody "Happy Birthday." The changes were implemented by uniformly expanding or compressing the frequency differences between each note in the melody. The participant's task was to scale how "out-of-tune" the melody was for various semitone spacing distortions. The notes were represented by pure-tones ≥440 Hz to minimize potential useful temporal information from the stimuli. A second experiment replicated the first experiment using single-sided deafened CI users allowing for a within-subject control. A third experiment verified that the CI users who participated in Experiment 1 were each able to determine pitch direction reliably. RESULTS:Unlike NH listeners, CI listeners often ranked all distortions of interval spacing similarly in both the first and second experiment, and no effect of interval spacing was detected across CI users. Some participants found distorted interval spacings to be less out-of-tune than the nominally correct interval spacings. However, these patterns were inconsistent across listeners. Although performance was better for the NH listeners, the third experiment demonstrated that the CI listeners were able to reliably identify changes in pitch direction from place-pitch coding. CONCLUSIONS:The data suggest that place-pitch intervals are not properly represented through a CI sound processor. Some limited support is found for place-pitch being useful for interval encoding as some participants demonstrated improved ratings for certain interval distortions. Presumably the interval representation for these participants could be improved by a change to the frequencies represented by each electrode. However, as these patterns vary across listeners, there is not a universal correction to frequency representation that will solve this issue. As results are similar for single-sided deafened CI users, the limitations in ratings are likely not limited by an eroded representation of the melody caused by an extended duration of deafness.
PMID: 33606415
ISSN: 1538-4667
CID: 4815292