The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America vol:115 issue:2 pages:844-852
In current cochlear implant systems, the fundamental frequency F0 of a complex sound is encoded by temporal fluctuations in the envelope of the electrical signals presented on the electrodes. In normal hearing, the lower harmonics of a complex sound are resolved, in contrast with a cochlear implant system. In the present study, it is investigated whether "place-coding" of the first harmonic improves the ability of an implantee to discriminate complex sounds with different fundamental frequencies. Therefore, a new filter bank was constructed, for which the first harmonic is always resolved in two adjacent filters, and the balance between both filter outputs is directly related to the frequency of the first harmonic. The new filter bank was compared with a filter bank that is typically used in clinical processors, both with and without the presence of temporal cues in the stimuli. Four users of the LAURA cochlear implant participated in a pitch discrimination task to determine detection thresholds for F0 differences. The results show that these thresholds decrease noticeably for the new filter bank, if no temporal cues are present in the stimuli. If temporal cues are included, the differences between the results for both filter banks become smaller, but a clear advantage is still observed for the new filter bank. This demonstrates the feasibility of using place-coding for the fundamental frequency.