What is it about?

With typical acoustic hearing, the ears are exact copies of each other and work together to help organize cluttered sound environments, like a noisy restaurant. This helps you be able to hear a person and communicate with them with little effort. We did an experiment to test if it was more difficult to attend to one ear if you made the ears intentionally different from each other, like simulating two different ears with cochlear implants (bionic prostheses that restore hearing). We found that the larger the differences in quality, the more difficult it was to attend to the information in the poorer functioning ear.

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Why is it important?

Before this, we assumed that attending to either ear was an easy task for anyone. Since we found that this is not always true, it means that we need to work harder to rehabilitate and improve performance in the poorer ear of bilateral and single-sided-deafness cochlear-implant users. If we do this, it will likely improve the person's overall spatial hearing and ability to deal with background noise.


Ear asymmetry is more important than we thought, and we will continue to work to understand to how fix asymmetries to maximize cochlear-implant performance.

Dr. Matthew J Goupell
University System of Maryland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Dichotic listening performance with cochlear-implant simulations of ear asymmetry is consistent with difficulty ignoring clearer speech, Attention Perception & Psychophysics, March 2021, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.3758/s13414-021-02244-x.
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