Spectral ripple discrimination thresholds were measured in 15 cochlear-implant users with broadband (350-5600 Hz) and octave-band noise stimuli. The results were compared with spatial tuning curve (STC) bandwidths previously obtained from the same subjects. Spatial tuning curve bandwidths did not correlate significantly with broadband spectral ripple discrimination thresholds but did correlate significantly with ripple discrimination thresholds when the rippled noise was confined to an octave-wide passband, centered on the STC's probe electrode frequency allocation. Ripple discrimination thresholds were also measured for octave-band stimuli in four contiguous octaves, with center frequencies from 500 Hz to 4000 Hz. Substantial variations in thresholds with center frequency were found in individuals, but no general trends of increasing or decreasing resolution from apex to base were observed in the pooled data. Neither ripple nor STC measures correlated consistently with speech measures in noise and quiet in the sample of subjects in this study. Overall, the results suggest that spectral ripple discrimination measures provide a reasonable measure of spectral resolution that correlates well with more direct, but more time-consuming, measures of spectral resolution, but that such measures do not always provide a clear and robust predictor of performance in speech perception tasks.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01 DC 006699) and by the Lions International Hearing Foundation. We thank Christophe Micheyl for help with the statistical analyses, Leo Litvak of Advanced Bionics for providing the matlab code for the spectral ripple computer simulations, and our research subjects for their participation.