The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America vol:109 issue:2 pages:713-26
In this study the perception of the fundamental frequency (F0) of periodic stimuli by cochlear implant users is investigated. A widely used speech processor is the Continuous Interleaved Sampling (CIS) processor, for which the fundamental frequency appears as temporal fluctuations in the envelopes at the output. Three experiments with four users of the LAURA (Registered trade mark of Philips Hearing Implants, now Cochlear Technology Centre Europe) cochlear implant were carried out to examine the influence of the modulation depth of these envelope fluctuations on pitch discrimination. In the first experiment, the subjects were asked to discriminate between two SAM (sinusoidally amplitude modulated) pulse trains on a single electrode channel differing in modulation frequency ( deltaf = 20%). As expected, the results showed a decrease in the performance for smaller modulation depths. Optimal performance was reached for modulation depths between 20% and 99%, depending on subject, electrode channel, and modulation frequency. In the second experiment, the smallest noticeable difference in F0 of synthetic vowels was measured for three algorithms that differed in the obtained modulation depth at the output: the default CIS strategy, the CIS strategy in which the F0 fluctuations in the envelope were removed (FLAT CIS), and a third CIS strategy, which was especially designed to control and increase the depth of these fluctuations (F0 CIS). In general, performance was poorest for the FLAT CIS strategy, where changes in F0 are only apparent as changes of the average amplitude in the channel outputs. This emphasizes the importance of temporal coding of F0 in the speech envelope for pitch perception. No significantly better results were obtained for the F0 CIS strategy compared to the default CIS strategy, although the latter results in envelope modulation depths at which sub-optimal scores were obtained in some cases of the first experiment. This indicates that less modulation is needed if all channels are stimulated with synchronous F0 fluctuations. This hypothesis is confirmed in a third experiment where subjects performed significantly better in a pitch discrimination task with SAM pulse trains, if three channels were stimulated concurrently, as opposed to only one.