Psychoakustik und Experimentelle Audiologie - Abgeschlossene Projekte

Objective:

The dependency of perceived loudness from electrical current in Cochlear Implant (CI) stimulation has been investigated in several existing studies. This investigation has two main goals:

  1. To study the efficiency of an adaptive method to determine the loudness function.
  2. To measure the loudness function in binaural as well as monaural stimulation.

Method:

Loudness functions are measured at single electrodes (or interaural electrode pairs) using the method of categorical loudness scaling. The efficiency of this method for hearing impaired listeners has been demonstrated in previous studies (Brand and Hohmann, JASA 112, p.1597-1604). Both an adaptive method and the method of constant stimuli are used. Binaural functions are measured subsequently to monaural function, including monaural measurements as control conditions.

Application:

The results indicate the suitability and efficiency of the adaptive categorical loudness scaling method as a tool for the fast determination of the loudness function. This can be applied to the clinical fitting of implant processors as well as for pre-measurements in psychoaoustic CI studies. The measurement results also provide new insights into monaural and binaural loudness perception of CI listeners.

Funding:

internal

Publications:

  • Wippel, F., Majdak, P., and Laback, B. (2007). Monaural and binaural categorical loudness scaling in electric hearing, presented at Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses (CIAP), Lake Tahoe.
  • Wippel, F. (2007). Monaural and binaural loudness scaling with cochlea implant listeners, master thesis, Technical University Vienna, Autrian Academy of Sciences (in German)

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. 

Results:

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.

Application:

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

Funding:

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

Publications:

  • 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.

Objective:

This study explores the adaptation of localization mechanisms to warping of spectral localization features, as required for CI listeners to map those features to their reduced electric stimulation range.

Methods and Results:

The effect of warping the stimulation range from 2.8 to 16 kHz to the range from 2.8 to 8.5 kHz was studied in normal-hearing listeners. Fifteen subjects participated in a long-time localization-training study, involving two-hour daily audio-visual training over a period of three weeks. The Test Group listened to frequency-warped stimuli, the Control Group to low-pass filtered stimuli (8.5 kHz). The Control Group showed an initial increase of localization error and essentially reached the baseline performance at the end of the training period. The Test Group showed a strong initial increase of localization error, followed by a steady improvement of performance, even though not reaching the baseline performance at the end of the training period. These results are promising with respect to the idea to present high-frequency spectral localization cues to the stimulation range available with CIs

Funding:

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

Publications:

  • Walder, T. (2010) Schallquellenlokalisation mittels Frequenzbereich-Kompression der Außenohrübertragungsfunktionen (englisch: Sound source localization with frequency-range compressed head-related transfer functions), Master thesis, Technical University of Graz & Kunstuniversität Graz.
  • Majdak, P., Walder, T., and Laback, B. (2011). Learning to Localize Band-Limited Sounds in Vertical Planes, presented at: 34st MidWinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). Baltimore, Maryland.

Objective and Methods:

This study investigates the effect of the number of frequency channels on vertical place sound localization, especially front/back discrimination. This is important to determine how many of the basal-most channels/electrodes of a cochlear implant (CI) are needed to encode spectral localization cues. Normal hearing subjects listening to a CI simulation (the newly developed GET vocoder) will perform the experiment using the localization method developed in the subproject "Loca Methods". Learning effects will be studied by obtaining visual feedback.

Results:

Experiments are underway.

Application:

Knowing the number of channels required to encode spectral cues for localization in the vertical planes is an important step in the development of a 3-D localization strategy for CIs. 

Funding:

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

Publications:

  • Goupell, M., Majdak, P., and Laback, B. (2010). Median-plane sound localization as a function of the number of spectral channels using a channel vocoder, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 127, 990-1001.

Objective and Method:

Current cochlear implant (CI) systems are not designed for sound localization in the sagittal planes (front-back and up/down-dimensions). Nevertheless, some of the spectral cues that are important for sagittal plane localization in normal hearing (NH) listeners might be audible for CI listeners. Here, we studied 3-D localization with bilateral CI-listeners using "clinical" CI systems and with NH listeners. Noise sources were filtered with subject-specific head-related transfer functions, and a virtually structured environment was presented via a head-mounted display to provide feedback for learning. 

Results:

The CI listeners performed generally worse than NH listeners, both in the horizontal and vertical dimensions. The localization error decreases with an increase in the duration of training. The front/back confusion rate of trained CI listeners was comparable to that of untrained (naive) NH listeners and two times higher than for the trained NH listeners. 

Application:

The results indicate that some spectral localization cues are available to bilateral CI listeners, even though the localization performance is much worse than for NH listeners. These results clearly show the need for new strategies to encode spectral localization cues for CI listeners, and thus improve sagittal plane localization. Front-back discrimination is particularly important in traffic situations.

Funding:

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

Publications:

  • Majdak, P., Goupell, M., and Laback, B. (2011). Two-Dimensional Localization of Virtual Sound Sources in Cochlear-Implant Listeners, Ear & Hearing.
  • Majdak, P., Laback, B., and Goupell, M. (2008). 3D-localization of virtual sound sources in normal-hearing and cochlear-implant listeners, presented at Acoustics '08  (ASA-EAA joint) conference, Paris

Objective:

This project investigates the effect on cochlear implant (CI) speech understanding caused by spectral peaks and notches, such as those resulting from the head-related transfer function filtering of a sound source. This is required to determine how spectral localization cues are best encoded with CIs, without destroying speech information.

Application:

Results from this project are required for the development of a 3-D localization strategy for CIs. Furthermore, the results give insight into the robustness of speech cues against spectral disruption in electric hearing.

Funding:

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

Objective:

This project studies the effects of the upper-frequency boundary and of spectral warping on speech intelligibility among Cochlear Implant (CI) listeners, using a 12-channel implant, and normal hearing (NH) listeners.  This is important to determine how many basal channels are "free" for encoding spectral localization cues.

Results:

The results show that eight frequency channels and spectral content up to about 3 kHz are sufficient to transmit speech under unwarped conditions. If frequency warping was applied, the changes had to be limited ± 2 frequency channels to preserve good speech understanding. This outcome shows the range of allowed modifications for presenting spectral localization cues to CI listeners. About four channels were found to be "free" for encoding spectral localization cues

Application:

see the description of the CI-HRTF project

Funding:

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

Publications:

  • Goupell, M., Laback, B., Majdak, P., and Baumgartner, W. D. (2007). Effects of upper-frequency boundary and spectral warping on speech intelligibility in electrical stimulation, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 123, 2295-2309.
  • Goupell, M. J., Laback, B., Majdak, P., and Baumgartner, W-D. (2007). Effect of frequency-place mapping on speech intelligibility: implications for a cochlear implant localization strategy, presented at Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses (CIAP), Lake Tahoe.
  • Goupell, M. J., Laback, B., Majdak, P., and Baumgartner, W-D. (2007). Effect of different frequency mappings on speech intelligibility for CI listeners, proceedings of DAGA 2007, Stuttgart.

Objective:

Bilateral use of current cochlear implant (CI) systems allows for the localization of sound sources in the left-right dimension. However, localization in the front-back and up-down dimensions (within the so-called sagittal planes) is restricted as a result of insufficient transmission of the relevant information.

Method:

In normal hearing listeners, localization within the sagittal planes is mediated when the pinna (outer ear) evaluates the spectral coloring of incoming waveforms at higher frequencies. Current CI systems do not provide these so-called pinna cues (or spectral cues), because of behind-the-ear microphone placement and the processor's limited analysis-frequency range.

While these technical limitations are relatively manageable, some fundamental questions arise:

  • What is the minimum number of channels required to encode the pinna cues relevant to vertical plane localization?
  • To what extent can CI listeners learn to localize sound sources using pinna cues that are mapped to tonotopic regions associated with lower characteristic frequencies (according to the position of typically implanted electrodes)?
  • Which modifications of stimulation strategies are required to facilitate the localization of sound sources for CI listeners?

Application:

The improvement of sound source localization in the front-back dimension is regarded as an important aspect in daily traffic safety.

Funding:

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

Status:

Finished in Sept. 2010

Subprojects:

  • ElecRang: Effects of upper-frequency boundary and spectral warping on speech intelligibility in electrical stimulation
  • SpecSens: Sensitivity to spectral peaks and notches
  • Loca-BtE-CI: Localization with behind-the-ear microphones
  • Loca Methods: Pointer method for localizing sound sources
  • Loca#Channels: Number of channels required for median place localization
  • SpatStrat: Development and evaluation of a spatialization strategy for cochlear implants
  • HRTF-Sim: Numerical simulation of HRTFs

Objective:

A recently developed stimulation strategy for cochlear implants attempts to encode temporal fine structure information, which is known to be important in perceiving pitch and interaural time differences (ITD). So-called "sequences" of pulses are triggered with each zero-crossing of the acoustic input waveform. It is expected that adaptation effects at the auditory nerve level limit the information flow. The goal of this project is to find optimum parameter values for this new stimulation strategy, which is intended to be applied in clinical applications.

Method:

The effects of a parameter's pulse rate within each sequence, the number of sequences per second, and the temporal shape of the sequence on ITD perception are studied systematically.

Application:

The optimum parameter values determined in the experiments are intended to be used in the clinical application of the new stimulation strategy.

Objective:

Bilateral cochlear implant (CI) listeners currently use stimulation strategies that encode

interaural time differences (ITD) in the temporal envelope. However, the strategies do not transmit ITD in the fine structure, because of the constant phase in the electric pulse train. To determine the utility of encoding ITD in the fine structure, ITD-based lateralization was investigated with four CI listeners and four normal hearing (NH) subjects who listened to a simulation of electric stimulation.

Methods und Results:

Lateralization discrimination was tested at different pulse rates for various combinations of

independently controlled fine structure ITD and envelope ITD. Results for electric hearing show that the fine structure ITD had the strongest impact on lateralization at lower pulse rates, with significant effects for pulse rates up to 800 pulses per second. At higher pulse rates, lateralization discrimination depended solely on the envelope ITD. The data suggest that bilateral CI listeners benefit from transmitting fine structure ITD at lower pulse rates. However, there were strong inter-individual differences: the better performing CI listeners performed comparably to the NH listeners.

Application:

The result that bilateral CI listeners benefit from transmitting fine structure ITD at lower pulse rates is relevant to future CI stimulation strategies that encode fine timing cues. It is expected that appropriate encoding of these cues improves sound localization abilities and speech understanding in noise.

Funding:

Internal

Publications:

Majdak, P., Laback, B., Baumgartner., W.D. (2006). Effects of interaural time differences in fine structure and envelope on lateral discrimination in electrical hearing, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 120, 2190-201.