Single-Sided Deafness Cochlear Implant Sound- Localization Behavior with Multiple Concurrent Sources

Joshua G.W. Bernstein*, Sandeep A. Phatak, Gerald I. Schuchman, Olga A. Stakhovskaya, Arnaldo L. Rivera, Douglas S. Brungart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: For listeners with one deaf ear and the other ear with normal/ near-normal hearing (single-sided deafness [SSD]) or moderate hearing loss (asymmetric hearing loss), cochlear implants (CIs) can improve speech understanding in noise and sound-source localization. Previous SSD-CI localization studies have used a single source with artificial sounds such as clicks or random noise. While this approach provides insights regarding the auditory cues that facilitate localization, it does not capture the complex nature of localization behavior in real-world environments. This study examined SSD-CI sound localization in a complex scenario where a target sound was added to or removed from a mixture of other environmental sounds, while tracking head movements to assess behavioral strategy. Design: Eleven CI users with normal hearing or moderate hearing loss in the contralateral ear completed a sound-localization task in monaural (CI-OFF) and bilateral (CI-ON) configurations. Ten of the listeners were also tested before CI activation to examine longitudinal effects. Twosecond environmental sound samples, looped to create 4- or 10-sec trials, were presented in a spherical array of 26 loudspeakers encompassing ±144° azimuth and ±30° elevation at a 1-m radius. The target sound was presented alone (localize task) or concurrently with one or three additional sources presented to different loudspeakers, with the target cued by being added to (Add) or removed from (Rem) the mixture after 6 sec. A head-mounted tracker recorded movements in six dimensions (three for location, three for orientation). Mixed-model regression was used to examine target sound-identification accuracy, localization accuracy, and head movement. Angular and translational head movements were analyzed both before and after the target was switched on or off. Results: Listeners showed improved localization accuracy in the CI-ON configuration, but there was no interaction with test condition and no effect of the CI on sound-identification performance. Although highfrequency hearing loss in the unimplanted ear reduced localization accuracy and sound-identification performance, the magnitude of the CI localization benefit was independent of hearing loss. The CI reduced the magnitude of gross head movements used during the task in the azimuthal rotation and translational dimensions, both while the target sound was present (in all conditions) and during the anticipatory period before the target was switched on (in the Add condition). There was no change in pre- versus post-activation CI-OFF performance. Conclusions: These results extend previous findings, demonstrating a CI localization benefit in a complex listening scenario that includes environmental and behavioral elements encountered in everyday listening conditions. The CI also reduced the magnitude of gross head movements used to perform the task. This was the case even before the target sound was added to the mixture. This suggests that a CI can reduce the need for physical movement both in anticipation of an upcoming sound event and while actively localizing the target sound. Overall, these results show that for SSD listeners, a CI can improve localization in a complex sound environment and reduce the amount of physical movement used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetric hearing loss
  • Auditory prosthesis
  • Binaural hearing
  • Directionality
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Situational awareness
  • Spatial hearing
  • Unilateral hearing loss


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