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PLOS ONE  2014 

Advanced Beamformers for Cochlear Implant Users: Acute Measurement of Speech Perception in Challenging Listening Conditions

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095542

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Abstract:

Objective To investigate the performance of monaural and binaural beamforming technology with an additional noise reduction algorithm, in cochlear implant recipients. Method This experimental study was conducted as a single subject repeated measures design within a large German cochlear implant centre. Twelve experienced users of an Advanced Bionics HiRes90K or CII implant with a Harmony speech processor were enrolled. The cochlear implant processor of each subject was connected to one of two bilaterally placed state-of-the-art hearing aids (Phonak Ambra) providing three alternative directional processing options: an omnidirectional setting, an adaptive monaural beamformer, and a binaural beamformer. A further noise reduction algorithm (ClearVoice) was applied to the signal on the cochlear implant processor itself. The speech signal was presented from 0° and speech shaped noise presented from loudspeakers placed at ±70°, ±135° and 180°. The Oldenburg sentence test was used to determine the signal-to-noise ratio at which subjects scored 50% correct. Results Both the adaptive and binaural beamformer were significantly better than the omnidirectional condition (5.3 dB±1.2 dB and 7.1 dB±1.6 dB (p<0.001) respectively). The best score was achieved with the binaural beamformer in combination with the ClearVoice noise reduction algorithm, with a significant improvement in SRT of 7.9 dB±2.4 dB (p<0.001) over the omnidirectional alone condition. Conclusions The study showed that the binaural beamformer implemented in the Phonak Ambra hearing aid could be used in conjunction with a Harmony speech processor to produce substantial average improvements in SRT of 7.1 dB. The monaural, adaptive beamformer provided an averaged SRT improvement of 5.3 dB.

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