Deafness in both ears is highly disruptive to communication in everyday listening situations. Many individuals with profound deafness receive bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) to gain access to spatial cues used in localization and speech understanding in noise. However, the benefit of bilateral CIs, in particular sensitivity to interaural time and level differences (ITD and ILDs), varies among patients. We measured binaural sensitivity in 46 adult bilateral CI patients to explore the relationship between binaural sensitivity and three classes of patient-related factors: age, acoustic exposure, and electric hearing experience. Results show that ILD sensitivity increased with shorter years of acoustic exposure, younger age at testing, or an interaction between these factors, moderated by the duration of bilateral hearing impairment. ITD sensitivity was impacted by a moderating effect between years of bilateral hearing impairment and CI experience. When age at onset of deafness was treated as two categories (<18 vs. >18 years of age), there was no clear effect for ILD sensitivity, but some differences were observed for ITD sensitivity. Our findings imply that maximal binaural sensitivity is obtained by listeners with a shorter bilateral hearing impairment, a longer duration of CI experience, and potentially a younger age at testing. 198/200.
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- hearing loss
- binaural sensitivity
- cochlear implant