Cochlear implants for true binaural hearing

© Cochlear


Researchers from the University of Western Ontario, Canada are exploring new ways for bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) to communicate with each other to achieve binaural hearing.

The University’s newspaper, Western News, reports that Mathias Dietz, Western’s Research Chair for Auditory Neuroscience/Binaural Hearing, will lead work to build on the concept of “conversation” between devices that has already been developed for hearing aids.

“The next natural step, on which I’m working, is to get this also for cochlear implants,” said Dietz. “This is helpful, that [hearing aids] are able to talk to each other, in a sense, so the one knows what the other is doing. It seems very natural to do the same for cochlear implants. For the processing, and the first stages of the technology, it’s very similar.”

Like in many countries worldwide, due to cost, Canada currently provides a single-sided CI for eligible adult patients and bilateral devices only for eligible children to help in language development. Dietz believes bilateral fitting should be generalized, “With one device, you are just not getting it. When you have a second device, one of the two is always closer to sounds and where they are coming from.”

But the two devices need to communicate, which is currently not the case. Dietz will focus his efforts on ensuring that signal processing on the one device is in tune with signal processing on the other. This will help listeners to locate the source of sound, an essential part of listening.

Source: Western News