A fellow CI blogger, Michael Chorost, the author of “Rebuilt”, recently wrote about an experience concerning localization with his bilateral CI’s.
I just found this article in the Laryngoscope, to back up his findings with facts (all the way at the bottom 🙂 ):
Laryngoscope. 118(1):145-151, January 2008.
Grantham, D Wesley PhD; Ricketts, Todd A. PhD; Ashmead, Daniel H. PhD; Labadie, Robert F. MD, PhD; Haynes, David S. MD
Objective: The main purpose of the study was to assess the ability of adults with unilateral cochlear implants to localize noise and speech signals in the horizontal plane.
Design: Six unilaterally implanted adults, all postlingually deafened and all fitted with MED-EL COMBI 40+ devices, were tested with a modified source identification task. Subjects were tested individually in an anechoic chamber, which contained an array of 43 numbered loudspeakers extending from -90[degrees] to +90[degrees] azimuth. On each trial, a 200 millisecond signal (either a noise burst or a speech sample) was presented from one of nine active loudspeakers, and the subject had to identify which source (from the 43 loudspeakers in the array) produced the signal.
Results: The relationship between source azimuth and response azimuth was characterized in terms of the adjusted constant error (C). C for three subjects was near chance (50.5[degrees]), whereas C for the remaining three subjects was significantly better than chance (35[degrees]-44[degrees]). By comparison, C for a group of normal-hearing listeners was 5.6[degrees]. For two of the three subjects who performed better than chance, monaural cues were determined to be the basis for their localization performance.
Conclusions: Some unilaterally implanted subjects can localize sounds at a better than chance level, apparently because they can learn to make use of subtle monaural cues based on frequency-dependent head-shadow effects. However, their performance is significantly poorer than that reported in previous studies of bilaterally implanted subjects, who are able to take advantage of binaural cues.