Spatial Selectivity in Cochlear Implants: Effects of Asymmetric Waveforms and Development of a Single-Point Measure.

05 Feb 2018

Three experiments studied the extent to which cochlear implant users' spatial selectivity can be manipulated using asymmetric waveforms and tested an efficient method for comparing spatial selectivity produced by different stimuli. Experiment 1 measured forward-masked psychophysical tuning curves (PTCs) for a partial tripolar (pTP) probe. Maskers were presented on bipolar pairs separated by one unused electrode; waveforms were either symmetric biphasic ("SYM") or pseudomonophasic with the short high-amplitude phase being either anodic ("PSA") or cathodic ("PSC") on the more apical electrode. For the SYM masker, several subjects showed PTCs consistent with a bimodal excitation pattern, with discrete excitation peaks on each electrode of the bipolar masker pair. Most subjects showed significant differences between the PSA and PSC maskers consistent with greater masking by the electrode where the high-amplitude phase was anodic, but the pattern differed markedly across subjects. Experiment 2 measured masked excitation patterns for a pTP probe and either a monopolar symmetric biphasic masker ("MP_SYM") or pTP pseudomonophasic maskers where the short high-amplitude phase was either anodic ("TP_PSA") or cathodic ("TP_PSC") on the masker's central electrode. Four of the five subjects showed significant differences between the masker types, but again the pattern varied markedly across subjects. Because the levels of the maskers were chosen to produce the same masking of a probe on the same channel as the masker, it was correctly predicted that maskers that produce broader masking patterns would sound louder. Experiment 3 exploited this finding by using a single-point measure of spread of excitation to reveal significantly better spatial selectivity for TP_PSA compared to TP_PSC maskers.