Auditory Enhancement in Cochlear-Implant Users Under Simultaneous and Forward Masking

  • Heather A. Kreft
  • Andrew J. Oxenham
Research Article


Auditory enhancement is the phenomenon whereby the salience or detectability of a target sound within a masker is enhanced by the prior presentation of the masker alone. Enhancement has been demonstrated using both simultaneous and forward masking in normal-hearing listeners and may play an important role in auditory and speech perception within complex and time-varying acoustic environments. The few studies of enhancement in hearing-impaired listeners have reported reduced or absent enhancement effects under forward masking, suggesting a potentially peripheral locus of the effect. Here, auditory enhancement was measured in eight cochlear-implant (CI) users with direct stimulation. Masked thresholds were measured under simultaneous and forward masking as a function of the number of masking electrodes, and the electrode spacing between the maskers and the target. Evidence for auditory enhancement was obtained under simultaneous masking, qualitatively consistent with results from normal-hearing listeners. However, no significant enhancement was observed under forward masking, in contrast to earlier results with normal-hearing listeners. The results suggest that the normal effects of auditory enhancement are partially but not fully experienced by CI users. To the extent that the CI users’ results differ from normal, it may be possible to apply signal processing to restore the missing aspects of enhancement.


cochlear implants enhancement adaptation context effects 



This research was supported by NIDCD Grant R01 DC 012262 and by the Lions 5M International Hearing Foundation. The authors wish to extend special thanks to the subjects who participated in this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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