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A method to enhance the use of interaural time differences for cochlear implants in reverberant environments
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The ability of normal-hearing (NH) listeners to exploit interaural time difference
(ITD) cues conveyed in the modulated envelopes of high-frequency sounds is poor compared to ITD cues transmitted in the temporal fine structure at low frequencies. Sensitivity to envelope ITDs is further degraded when envelopes become less steep, when modulation depth is reduced, and when envelopes become less similar between the ears, common factors when listening in reverberant environments. The vulnerability of envelope ITDs is particularly problematic for cochlear implant
(CI) users, as they rely on information conveyed by slowly varying amplitude envelopes. Here, an approach to improve access to envelope ITDs for CIs is described in which, rather than attempting to reduce reverberation, the perceptual saliency of cues relating to the source is increased by selectively sharpening peaks in the amplitude envelope judged to contain reliable ITDs. Performance of the algorithm with room reverberation was assessed through simulating listening with bilateral CIs in headphone experiments with NH listeners. Relative to simulated standard CI processing, stimuli processed with the algorithm generated lower ITD
discrimination thresholds and increased extents of laterality. Depending on parameterization, intelligibility was unchanged or somewhat reduced. The algorithm has the potential to improve spatial listening with CIs.
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