Spatial release from masking assessment in virtual reality for bilateral cochlear implants users
* Presenting author
One of the potential benefits of having bilateral cochlear implants, in addition to enhanced sound localisation abilities, is the improvement of speech-in-noise perception, more specifically the advantages gained by being able to spatially separate the speech and noise sources. This process is known as spatial release from masking (SRM). In order to improve these skills through hearing training, it is essential to assess binaural hearing performance in a time-efficient manner, being able though to maintain some of the real-world complexities, e.g. multiple sources and reverberation.Traditional tests of SRM and/or localization are often time consuming, and typically assess these in unrealistic settings, with only one controlled stimulus to attend to. With this in mind, Bizley and colleagues (2015) developed the Spatial Speech in Noise test (SSiN), which allows for the simultaneous evaluation of speech discrimination for various locations, SRM, and relative localisation measures using speech in a background babble. We have recently developed a Virtual Reality-based binaural training suite named BEARS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-Rn7ipiJAg). In order to assess its impact in terms of SRM and localisation, but without needing to rely on custom spaces and expensive loudspeakers arrays, we have implemented and evaluated a 3D headphones-based implementation of the SSiN test.