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Peter Vuust

The CI MuMuFe: A New MMN Paradigm for Measuring Music Discrimination in Electric Hearing

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Cochlear implants (CIs) allow good perception of speech while music listening is unsatisfactory, leading to reduced music enjoyment. Hence, a number of ongoing efforts aim to improve music perception with a CI. Regardless of the nature of these efforts, effect measurements must be valid and reliable. While auditory skills are typically examined by behavioral methods, recording of the mismatch negativity (MMN) response, using electroencephalography (EEG), has recently been applied successfully as a supplementary objective measure. Eleven adult CI users and 14 normally hearing (NH) controls took part in the present study. To measure their detailed discrimination of fundamental features of music we applied a new multifeature MMN-paradigm which presented four music deviants at four levels of magnitude, incorporating a novel “no-standard” approach to be tested with CI users for the first time. A supplementary test measured behavioral discrimination of the same deviants and levels. The MMN-paradigm elicited significant MMN responses to all levels of deviants in both groups. Furthermore, the CI-users’ MMN amplitudes and latencies were not significantly different from those of NH controls. Both groups showed MMN strength that was in overall alignment with the deviation magnitude. In CI users, however, discrimination of pitch levels remained undifferentiated. On average, CI users’ behavioral performance was significantly below that of the NH group, mainly due to poor pitch discrimination. Although no significant effects were found, CI users’ behavioral results tended to be in accordance with deviation magnitude, most prominently manifested in discrimination of the rhythm deviant. In summary, the study indicates that CI users may be able to discriminate subtle changes in basic musical features both in terms of automatic neural responses and of attended behavioral detection. Despite high complexity, the new CI MuMuFe paradigm and the “no-standard” approach provided reliable results, suggesting that it may serve as a relevant tool in future CI research. For clinical use, future studies should investigate the possibility of applying the paradigm with the purpose of assessing discrimination skills not only at the group level but also at the individual level.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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