Sensitivity to Spectral Peaks and Notches (SpecSens)

Objective and Methods

Spectral peaks and notches are important cues that normal hearing listeners use to localize sounds in the vertical planes (the front/back and up/down dimensions). This study investigates to what extent cochlear implant (CI) listeners are sensitive to spectral peaks and notches imposed upon a constant-loudness background.


Listeners could always detect peaks, but not always notches. Increasing the bandwidth beyond two electrodes showed no improvement in thresholds. The high-frequency place was significantly worse than the low and middle places; although, listeners had highly-individual tendencies. Thresholds decreased with an increase in the height of the peak. Thresholds for detecting a change in the frequency of a peak or notch were approximately one electrode. Level roving significantly increased thresholds. Thus, there is currently no indication that CI listeners can perform a "true" profile analysis. Future studies will explore if adding temporal cues or roving the level in equal loudness steps, instead of equal-current steps (as in the present study), is relevant for profile analysis.


Data on the sensitivity to spectral peaks and notches are required to encode spectral localization cues in future CI stimulation strategies. 


FWF (Austrian Science Fund): Project #P18401-B15


  • Goupell, M., Laback, B., Majdak, P., and Baumgartner, W. D. (2008). Current-level discrimination and spectral profile analysis in multi-channel electrical stimulation, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 124, 3142-57.
  • Goupell, M. J., Laback, B., Majdak, P., and Baumgartner, W-D. (2007). Sensitivity to spectral peaks and notches in cochlear implant listeners, presented at Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses (CIAP), Lake Tahoe.