This study investigated the benefits of adding unprocessed low-frequency information to acoustic simulations of cochlear-implant processing in normal-hearing listeners. Implant processing was simulated using an eight-channel noise-excited envelope vocoder, and low-frequency information was added by replacing the lower frequency channels of the processor with a low-pass-filtered version of the original stimulus. Experiment 1 measured sentence-level speech reception as a function of target-to-masker ratio, with either steady-state speech-shaped noise or single-talker maskers. Experiment 2 measured listeners' ability to identify two vowels presented simultaneously, as a function of the F0 difference between the two vowels. In both experiments low-frequency information was added below either 300 or 600 Hz. The introduction of the additional low-frequency information led to substantial and significant improvements in performance in both experiments, with a greater improvement observed for the higher (600 Hz) than for the lower (300 Hz) cutoff frequency. However, performance never equaled performance in the unprocessed conditions. The results confirm other recent demonstrations that added low-frequency information can provide significant benefits in intelligibility, which may at least in part be attributed to improvements in F0 representation. The findings provide further support for efforts to make use of r esidual acoustic hearing in cochlear-implant users.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD Grant R01 DC 05216). We thank Joshua Bernstein, Louis Braida, Christophe Micheyl, Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, Andrea Simonson, and the reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.