Frequency Following Response and Speech Recognition Benefit for Combining a Cochlear Implant and Contralateral Hearing Aid
Kessler, David M.
Smith, Spencer B.
Gifford, Rene H.
Multiple studies have shown significant speech recognition benefit when acoustic hearing is combined with a cochlear implant (CI) for a bimodal hearing configuration. However, this benefit varies greatly between individuals. There are few clinical measures correlated with bimodal benefit and those correlations are driven by extreme values prohibiting data-driven, clinical counseling. This study evaluated the relationship between neural representation of fundamental frequency (F0) and temporal fine structure via the frequency following response (FFR) in the nonimplanted ear as well as spectral and temporal resolution of the nonimplanted ear and bimodal benefit for speech recognition in quiet and noise. Participants included 14 unilateral CI users who wore a hearing aid (HA) in the nonimplanted ear. Testing included speech recognition in quiet and in noise with the HA-alone, CI-alone, and in the bimodal condition (i.e., CI + HA), measures of spectral and temporal resolution in the nonimplanted ear, and FFR recording for a 170-ms/da/stimulus in the nonimplanted ear. Even after controlling for four-frequency pure-tone average, there was a significant correlation (r = .83) between FFR F0 amplitude in the nonimplanted ear and bimodal benefit. Other measures of auditory function of the nonimplanted ear were not significantly correlated with bimodal benefit. The FFR holds potential as an objective tool that may allow data-driven counseling regarding expected benefit from the nonimplanted ear. It is possible that this information may eventually be used for clinical decision-making, particularly in difficult-to-test populations such as young children, regarding effectiveness of bimodal hearing versus bilateral CI candidacy.