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Optimizing the Clinical Fit of Auditory Brain Stem Implants
LONG, C.J., NIMMO-SMITH, I., Baguley, D.M., O'Driscoll, M., Ramsden, R., Otto, S.R., Axon, P.R. & CARLYON, R.P.
Ear and Hearing, 26(3), 251-262
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OBJECTIVE: To develop and implement a new audiological fitting procedure for auditory brain stem implants (ABIs), based on an efficient algorithm, and to compare it with two procedures presently used in clinical practice. DESIGN: First, the different procedures were compared by using computer models and simulations with normal-hearing subjects (N = 4). This allows for an analysis of the accuracy of the procedures in a way that is not possible when testing ABI users. The root-mean-square error between the order estimated by the procedure and the true order was calculated. In addition, ABI users (N = 2) were tested with the new procedure to see if it could be successfully applied in clinic. The degree of variability of their results across runs and sessions was analyzed. RESULTS: The tests of the normal-hearing subjects showed that our proposed procedure required significantly fewer trials (22 on average) than procedures presently used in clinic (with 76 and 234 trials on average for the two other procedures tested) to produce the same degree of accuracy. Computer modeling also demonstrated this advantage. Additional testing showed this advantage was maintained under a variety of conditions relevant to the clinic. The two patients tested were able to use this procedure with success, even though they were poor at discriminating the pitch of electrodes. The patients showed results consistent with having about 4 to 5 discriminable groups of electrodes with the 12 to 14 electrodes tested. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed procedure requires fewer trials to produce a clinically useful result and is well tolerated in the clinic. An additional advantage is that it allows testing to be broken down into several "blocks," each containing a small number of trials. If the variability between blocks is small, information can be combined across blocks to increase the accuracy of the result. If the variability is large, perhaps between blocks on different days, this may reflect a significant change in the percepts generated by the implant, and signal to the clinician that a significant alteration in the fitting is required. We recommend its use in ABI user fitting and in cochlear implant fitting when pitch ranking is problematic.