Pitch and loudness matching of unmodulated and modulated stimuli in cochlear implantees

Andrew Vandali*, David Sly, Robert Cowan, Richard Van Hoesel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The pitch elicited by unmodulated and amplitude modulated electrical pulse trains was examined with six adult cochlear implantees. In addition, for three of those subjects who had some hearing in their contralateral ear, the pitch of unmodulated electrical pulse trains was compared to that of complex harmonic acoustic tones. In the first experiment, pulse rate discrimination and the effects of place and level differences on pitch were examined for unmodulated pulse trains. General results were consistent with previous studies showing that variations in pulse rate, while holding loudness fixed, elicit changes in pitch at low rates, but become progressively harder to discriminate as rates approach approximately 300 pulses-per-second. Variations in place or level of stimulation generally produced changes in pitch consistent with tonotopic place and spread of excitation. In the second experiment, pitch and loudness of unmodulated pulse trains were compared with those of amplitude modulated stimuli as a function of modulation depth, rate, and shape, and presentation level. The pitch elicited by an amplitude modulated pulse train was generally higher than that of an unmodulated pulse train with a pulse rate equal to the modulation rate, and generally decreased toward that of the unmodulated pulse train as modulation depth or rate increased, or as presentation level decreased. Sharper/narrower modulation produced lower pitch. In the final experiment, the pitch heights of acoustic complex harmonic tones and unmodulated pulse trains were compared. When electrical pulse rate was equal to the fundamental frequency of the acoustic tone, similar pitch heights were elicited. The results from these experiments indicate that F0 rate pitch derived from the temporal envelope in existing clinical cochlear implant strategies may often be higher than that of acoustic harmonic tones at the same F0 in normal hearing, and that pitch growth with increasing F0 may be shallower. The relationship between F0 and rate pitch is expected to be more similar to acoustic stimulation for low F0 rates when using new pitch coding strategies that code F0 information via deep (narrow) amplitude modulation of the stimulus envelope. Although that similarity reduces as F0 approaches the upper limit of rate-pitch discrimination, that limit is reached sooner for the shallow (or broad) modulators used in existing clinical strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-49
Number of pages18
JournalHearing Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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