Cochlear implants are highly successful neural prostheses that enhance or restore hearing to the severely hearing impaired. However, performance varies considerably among cochlear implant listeners, particularly in noisy environments and for spectrally complex stimuli like music. Pathology and imaging studies suggest that two sources of performance variability are the distribution of surviving spiral ganglion neurons and their distance from individual CI electrodes. This proposal uses psychophysical measures, computed tomography imaging, and computer modeling to assess how such factors affect the function of individual cochlear implant channels. That information will be applied to reprogram the implant processor in order to minimize the influence of poorly functioning channels.
Three aims are proposed: 1) To determine the degree to which thresholds obtained using a spatially focused electrode configuration correlate with single-channel measures of spectral resolution, loudness growth, and electrode position within the cochlea;2) To quantify the contributions of channels with high thresholds on the discrimination of speech stimuli;and 3) To determine if listener-specific mapping tailored to the estimated electrode-neuron interface from Aim 1 can improve perception on complex listening tasks. The results of these studies are expected to advance the field's understanding of how cochlear implant channel position and neural survival affect single-channel and speech perception. The findings have the potential to shift clinical practice by providing a guide for patient-specific channel mapping and ultimately lead to improved speech perception abilities in cochlear implant listeners.

Public Health Relevance

A cochlear implant converts environmental sounds into electrical pulses that stimulate the auditory nerve and produce the sensation of hearing in people with severe hearing loss. The primary purpose of this project is to develop better tools for testing cochlear implant function within individual listeners, and to apply that knowledge to develop new implant fitting techniques to improve listening performance.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
Program Officer
Miller, Roger
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Washington
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
DiNino, Mishaela; Arenberg, Julie G (2018) Age-Related Performance on Vowel Identification and the Spectral-temporally Modulated Ripple Test in Children With Normal Hearing and With Cochlear Implants. Trends Hear 22:2331216518770959
Jahn, Kelly N; DiNino, Mishaela; Arenberg, Julie G (2018) Reducing Simulated Channel Interaction Reveals Differences in Phoneme Identification Between Children and Adults With Normal Hearing. Ear Hear :
Arenberg, Julie G; Parkinson, Wendy S; Litvak, Leonid et al. (2018) A Dynamically Focusing Cochlear Implant Strategy Can Improve Vowel Identification in Noise. Ear Hear 39:1136-1145
DeVries, Lindsay; Scheperle, Rachel; Bierer, Julie Arenberg (2016) Assessing the Electrode-Neuron Interface with the Electrically Evoked Compound Action Potential, Electrode Position, and Behavioral Thresholds. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 17:237-52
Bierer, Julie A; Litvak, Leonid (2016) Reducing Channel Interaction Through Cochlear Implant Programming May Improve Speech Perception: Current Focusing and Channel Deactivation. Trends Hear 20:
Cosentino, Stefano; Carlyon, Robert P; Deeks, John M et al. (2016) Rate discrimination, gap detection and ranking of temporal pitch in cochlear implant users. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 17:371-82
Bierer, Julie Arenberg; Spindler, Eugene; Bierer, Steven M et al. (2016) An Examination of Sources of Variability Across the Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant Test in Cochlear Implant Listeners. Trends Hear 20:
DiNino, Mishaela; Wright, Richard A; Winn, Matthew B et al. (2016) Vowel and consonant confusions from spectrally manipulated stimuli designed to simulate poor cochlear implant electrode-neuron interfaces. J Acoust Soc Am 140:4404
Bierer, Julie Arenberg; Deeks, John M; Billig, Alexander J et al. (2015) Comparison of signal and gap-detection thresholds for focused and broad cochlear implant electrode configurations. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 16:273-84
Bierer, Julie A; Bierer, Steven M; Kreft, Heather A et al. (2015) A fast method for measuring psychophysical thresholds across the cochlear implant array. Trends Hear 19:

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications