Sound source localization and speech understanding in complex listening environments by single-sided deaf listeners after cochlear implantation

Daniel M. Zeitler, Michael Dorman, Sarah J. Natale, Louise Loiselle, William Yost, Rene H. Gifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess improvements in sound source localization and speech understanding in complex listening environments after unilateral cochlear implantation for single-sided deafness (SSD). Study Design: Nonrandomized, open, prospective case series. Setting: Tertiary referral center. Patients: Nine subjects with a unilateral cochlear implant (CI) for SSD (SSD-CI) were tested. Reference groups for the task of sound source localization included young (n=45) and older (n=12) normal-hearing (NH) subjects and 27 bilateral CI (BCI) subjects. Intervention: Unilateral cochlear implantation. Main Outcome Measures: Sound source localization was tested with 13 loudspeakers in a 180 arc in front of the subject. Speech understanding was tested with the subject seated in an 8-loudspeaker sound system arrayed in a 360-degree pattern. Directionally appropriate noise, originally recorded in a restaurant, was played from each loudspeaker. Speech understanding in noise was tested using the Azbio sentence test and sound source localization quantified using root mean square error. Results: All CI subjects showed poorer-than-normal sound source localization. SSD-CI subjects showed a bimodal distribution of scores: six subjects had scores near the mean of those obtained by BCI subjects, whereas three had scores just outside the 95th percentile of NH listeners. Speech understanding improved significantly in the restaurant environment when the signal was presented to the side of the CI. Conclusion: Cochlear implantation for SSD can offer improved speech understanding in complex listening environments and improved sound source localization in both children and adults. On tasks of sound source localization, SSD-CI patients typically perform as well as BCI patients and, in some cases, achieve scores at the upper boundary of normal performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1471
Number of pages5
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015



  • Cochlear implant
  • Hearing in noise
  • Sided deafness
  • Single
  • Sound localization
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Sensory Systems

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