Electro-tactile stimulation (ETS) enhances cochlear-implant Mandarin tone recognition

Juan Huang, Janice Chang, Fan-Gang Zeng
2017 World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery  
Objective: Electro-acoustic stimulation (EAS) is an effective method to enhance cochlear-implant performance in individuals who have residual low-frequency acoustic hearing. To help the majority of cochlear implant users who do not have any functional residual acoustic hearing, electro-tactile stimulation (ETS) may be used because tactile sensation has a frequency range and perceptual capabilities similar to that produced by acoustic stimulation in the EAS users. Methods: Following up the first
more » ... ETS study showing enhanced English sentence recognition in noise, 1 the present study evaluated the effect of ETS on Mandarin tone recognition in noise in two groups of adult Mandarin-speaking individuals. The first group included 11 normalhearing individuals who listened to a 4-channel, noise-vocoded, cochlear-implant simulation. The second group included 1 unilateral cochlear-implant user and 2 bilateral users with each of their devices being tested independently. Both groups participated in a 4-alternative, forced-choice task, in which they had to identify a tone that was presented in noise at a 0-dB signal-to-noise ratio via electric stimulation (actual or simulated cochlear implants), tactile stimulation or the combined ETS. Results: While electric or tactile stimulation alone produced similar tone recognition (w40% correct), the ETS enhanced the cochlear-implant tone recognition by 17e18 percentage points. The size of the present ETS enhancement effect was similar to that of the previously reported EAS effect on Mandarin tone recognition. Psychophysical analysis on tactile sensation showed an important role of frequency discrimination in the ETS enhancement. Conclusion: Tactile stimulation can potentially enhance Mandarin tone recognition in cochlear-implant users who do not have usable residual acoustic hearing. To optimize this potential, high fundamental frequencies need to be transposed to a 100e200 Hz range.
doi:10.1016/j.wjorl.2017.12.002 pmid:29780966 pmcid:PMC5956137 fatcat:4w7ivvhqjvckfa4n3pemrdfmda