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Forward-Masking patterns produced by symmetric and asymmetric pulse shapes in electric hearing
MACHEREY, O, van Wieringen, A, CARLYLON, R.P., Dhooge, I., Wouters, J.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 127(1), 326-338
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Two forward-masking experiments were conducted with six cochlear implant listeners to test whether asymmetric pulse shapes would improve the place-specificity of stimulation compared to symmetric ones. The maskers were either cathodic-first symmetric biphasic, pseudomonophasic (i.e., with a second anodic phase longer and lower in amplitude than the first phase), or "delayed pseudomonophasic" (identical to pseudomonophasic but with an inter-phase gap) stimuli. In experiment 1, forward-masking patterns for monopolar maskers were obtained by keeping each masker fixed on a middle electrode of the array and measuring the masked thresholds of a monopolar signal presented on several other electrodes. The results were very variable, and no difference between pulse shapes was found. In experiment 2, six maskers were used in a wide bipolar (bipolar+9) configuration: the same three pulse shapes as in experiment 1, either cathodic-first relative to the most apical or relative to the most basal electrode of the bipolar channel. The pseudomonophasic masker showed a stronger excitation proximal to the electrode of the bipolar pair for which the short, high-amplitude phase was anodic. However, no difference was obtained with the symmetric and, more surprisingly, with the delayed pseudomonophasic maskers. Implications for cochlear implant design are discussed.