Objective: This study examined the effect of microphone placement on the interaural level differences (ILDs) available to bilateral cochlear implant (BiCI) users, and the subsequent effects on horizontal-plane sound localization.
Design: Virtual acoustic stimuli for sound localization testing were created individually for eight BiCI users by making acoustic transfer function measurements for microphones placed in the ear (ITE), behind the ear (BTE), and on the shoulders (SHD). The ILDs across source locations were calculated for each placement to analyze their effect on sound localization performance. Sound localization was tested using a repeated-measures, within-participant design for the three microphone placements.
Results: The ITE microphone placement provided significantly larger ILDs compared to BTE and SHD placements, which correlated with overall localization errors. However, differences in localization errors across the microphone conditions were small.
Conclusions: The BTE microphones worn by many BiCI users in everyday life do not capture the full range of acoustic ILDs available, and also reduce the change in cue magnitudes for sound sources across the horizontal plane. Acute testing with an ITE placement reduced sound localization errors along the horizontal plane compared to the other placements in some patients. Larger improvements may be observed if patients had more experience with the new ILD cues provided by an ITE placement.
- Bilateral cochlear implants
- Microphone placement
- Sound localization