Neurophysiology of cochlear implant users II: Comparison among speech perception, dynamic range, and physiological measures

Jill B. Firszt*, Ron D. Chambers, Nina Kraus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objective: The overall objective of this study was to relate electrically evoked potentials recorded from different levels of the auditory pathway with behavioral measures obtained from adult cochlear implant subjects. The hypothesis was that adult recipients of cochlear implants who have open-set speech perception and those recipients with no open-set speech perception would differ in their neurophysiologic responses recorded at one or more levels of the auditory pathway. Design: The subjects were 11 adults implanted with the Clarion cochlear implant. The electrical auditory brainstem response (EABR, Wave V), electrical auditory middle latency response (EAMLR, Na-Pa complex), and the electrical late auditory response (ELAR, N1-P2 complex), were recorded from three intra-cochlear electrodes. The stimuli used to record the evoked potentials varied in rate and amplitude. Behavioral measures (between threshold and upper limit of comfortable loudness) were used to define the subject's dynamic range at the different stimulus rates. Word and sentence recognition tests evaluated subjects' speech perception in quiet and noise. Evoked potential and behavioral measures were examined for statistical significance using analysis of variance for repeated measures and correlational analyses. Results: Subjects without open-set speech recognition demonstrated 1) poorly formed or absent evoked potential responses, 2) reduced behavioral dynamic ranges, 3) lack of change in the size of the dynamic range with a change in stimulus rate, and 4) longer periods of auditory deprivation. The variables that differentiated the best performers included 1) presence of responses at all three levels of the auditory pathway, with large normalized amplitudes for the EAMLR, 2) lower evoked potential thresholds for the Na-Pa complex, 3) relatively large dynamic ranges, and 4) changes in the size of the dynamic range with changes in stimulus rate. Conclusions: In this study, the inability to follow changes in the temporal characteristics of the stimulus was associated with poor speech perception performance. Results also illustrate that variability in speech perception scores of cochlear implant recipients relates to neurophysiologic responses at higher cortical levels of the auditory pathway. Presumably, limited neural synchrony for elicitation of electrophysiologic responses underlies limited speech perception. Results confirm that neural encoding with electrical stimulation must provide sufficient physiologic responses of the central nervous system to perceive speech through a cochlear implant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-531
Number of pages16
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing


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