Simultaneous grouping in cochlear implant listeners: can abrupt changes in level be used to segregate components from a complex tone?

Huw R. Cooper, Brian Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A sudden increase in the amplitude of a component often causes its segregation from a complex tone, and shorter rise times enhance this effect. We explored whether this also occurs in implant listeners (n?=?8). Condition 1 used a 3.5-s “complex tone” comprising concurrent stimulation on five electrodes distributed across the array of the Nucleus CI24 implant. For each listener, the baseline stimulus level on each electrode was set at 50% of the dynamic range (DR). Two 1-s increments of 12.5%, 25%, or 50% DR were introduced in succession on adjacent electrodes within the “inner” three of those activated. Both increments had rise and fall times of 30 and 970 ms or vice versa. Listeners reported which increment was higher in pitch. Some listeners performed above chance for all increment sizes, but only for 50% increments did all listeners perform above chance. No significant effect of rise time was found. Condition 2 replaced amplitude increments with decrements. Only three listeners performed above chance even for 50% decrements. One exceptional listener performed well for 50% decrements with fall and rise times of 970 and 30 ms but around chance for fall and rise times of 30 and 970 ms, indicating successful discrimination based on a sudden rise back to baseline stimulation. Overall, the results suggest that implant listeners can use amplitude changes against a constant background to pick out components from a complex, but generally these must be large compared with those required in normal hearing. For increments, performance depended mainly on above-baseline stimulation of the target electrodes, not rise time. With one exception, performance for decrements was typically very poor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • auditory grouping
  • change detection
  • pitch discrimination
  • cochlear implants


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