OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to evaluate binaural hearing ability in adults with normal hearing when bone conduction (BC) stimulation is bilaterally applied at the bone conduction hearing aid (BCHA) implant position as well as at the audiometric position on the mastoid. The results with BC stimulation are compared with bilateral air conduction (AC) stimulation through earphones.
DESIGN: Binaural hearing ability is investigated with tests of spatial release from masking and binaural intelligibility level difference using sentence material, binaural masking level difference with tonal chirp stimulation, and precedence effect using noise stimulus.
RESULTS: In all tests, results with bilateral BC stimulation at the BCHA position illustrate an ability to extract binaural cues similar to BC stimulation at the mastoid position. The binaural benefit is overall greater with AC stimulation than BC stimulation at both positions. The binaural benefit for BC stimulation at the mastoid and BCHA position is approximately half in terms of decibels compared with AC stimulation in the speech based tests (spatial release from masking and binaural intelligibility level difference). For binaural masking level difference, the binaural benefit for the two BC positions with chirp signal phase inversion is approximately twice the benefit with inverted phase of the noise. The precedence effect results with BC stimulation at the mastoid and BCHA position are similar for low frequency noise stimulation but differ with high-frequency noise stimulation.
CONCLUSIONS: The results confirm that binaural hearing processing with bilateral BC stimulation at the mastoid position is also present at the BCHA implant position. This indicates the ability for binaural hearing in patients with good cochlear function when using bilateral BCHAs.