Previous studies show that cochlear implant (CI) listeners show sensitivity to interaural time difference (ITD) in the fine structure at comparable, or sometimes even higher pulse rates than normal hearing (NH) subjects. This study investigates whether the differences between the two subject groups are due to an effect of auditory filtering that is absent in the case of electric stimulation.
The effects of center frequency and pulse rate on the sensitivity to ongoing envelope ITD were investigated using bandpass-filtered pulse trains. Three center frequencies (4.6, 6.5, and 9.2 kHz) were tested, and the bandwidth was scaled to stimulate an approximately constant range on the basilar membrane. The pulse rate was varied from 200 to 588 pulses per second (pps).
The results show a small but significant decrease in performance with an increase in center frequency. Furthermore, performance decreases with an increase in pulse rate, yielding a rate limit of approximately 500 pps. The lack of an interaction between pulse rate and center frequency indicates that auditory filtering was not the limiting factor in ITD perception. This suggests the existence of other limiting mechanisms, such as phase locking or more central binaural processes. The comparison of the ITD rate limits in CI subjects with those in NH subjects was considered unaffected by the auditory filtering in NH listeners.
FWF (Austrian Science Fund): Project # P18401-B15