Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Department of Biophysics, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]
An increased number of treatment options has become available for patients with single sided deafness (SSD), who are seeking hearing rehabilitation. For example, bone-conduction devices that employ contralateral routing of sound (CROS), by transmitting acoustic bone vibrations from the deaf side to the cochlea of the hearing ear, are widely used. However, in some countries, cochlear implantation is becoming the standard treatment. The present study investigated whether CROS intervention, by means of a CROS bone-conduction device (C-BCD), affected sound-localization performance of patients with SSD. Several studies have reported unexpected moderate to good unilateral sound-localization abilities in unaided SSD listeners. Listening with a C-BCD might deteriorate these localization abilities because sounds are transmitted, through bone conduction to the contralateral normal hearing ear, and could thus interfere with monaural level cues (i.e. ambiguous monaural head-shadow cues), or with the subtle spectral localization cues, on which the listener has learned to rely on. The present study included nineteen SSD patients who were using their C-BCD for more than five months. To assess the use of the different localization cues, we investigated their localization abilities to broadband (BB, 0.5-20 kHz), low-pass (LP, 0.5-1.5 kHz), and high-pass filtered noises (HP, 3-20 kHz) of varying intensities. Experiments were performed in complete darkness, by measuring orienting head-movement responses under open-loop localization conditions. We demonstrate that a minority of listeners with SSD (5 out of 19) could localize BB and HP (but not LP) sounds in the horizontal plane in the unaided condition, and that a C-BCD did not deteriorate their localization abilities.