J Am Acad Audiol 2013; 24(10): 927-940
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.24.10.5
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2013) American Academy of Audiology

Electromagnetic versus Electrical Coupling of Personal Frequency Modulation (FM) Receivers to Cochlear Implant Sound Processors

Erin C. Schafer
Denise Romine
Elizabeth Musgrave
Sadaf Momin
Christy Huynh
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: Previous research has suggested that electrically coupled frequency modulation (FM) systems substantially improved speech-recognition performance in noise in individuals with cochlear implants (CIs). However, there is limited evidence to support the use of electromagnetically coupled (neck loop) FM receivers with contemporary CI sound processors containing telecoils.

Purpose: The primary goal of this study was to compare speech-recognition performance in noise and subjective ratings of adolescents and adults using one of three contemporary CI sound processors coupled to electromagnetically and electrically coupled FM receivers from Oticon.

Research Design: A repeated-measures design was used to compare speech-recognition performance in noise and subjective ratings without and with the FM systems across three test sessions (Experiment 1) and to compare performance at different FM-gain settings (Experiment 2). Descriptive statistics were used in Experiment 3 to describe output differences measured through a CI sound processor.

Study Sample: Experiment 1 included nine adolescents or adults with unilateral or bilateral Advanced Bionics Harmony (n = 3), Cochlear Nucleus 5 (n = 3), and MED-EL OPUS 2 (n = 3) CI sound processors. In Experiment 2, seven of the original nine participants were tested. In Experiment 3, electroacoustic output was measured from a Nucleus 5 sound processor when coupled to the electromagnetically coupled Oticon Arc neck loop and electrically coupled Oticon R2.

Data Collection and Analysis: In Experiment 1, participants completed a field trial with each FM receiver and three test sessions that included speech-recognition performance in noise and a subjective rating scale. In Experiment 2, participants were tested in three receiver-gain conditions. Results in both experiments were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance. Experiment 3 involved electroacoustic-test measures to determine the monitor-earphone output of the CI alone and CI coupled to the two FM receivers.

Results: The results in Experiment 1 suggested that both FM receivers provided significantly better speech-recognition performance in noise than the CI alone; however, the electromagnetically coupled receiver provided significantly better speech-recognition performance in noise and better ratings in some situations than the electrically coupled receiver when set to the same gain. In Experiment 2, the primary analysis suggested significantly better speech-recognition performance in noise for the neck-loop versus electrically coupled receiver, but a second analysis, using the best performance across gain settings for each device, revealed no significant differences between the two FM receivers. Experiment 3 revealed monitor-earphone output differences in the Nucleus 5 sound processor for the two FM receivers when set to the +8 setting used in Experiment 1 but equal output when the electrically coupled device was set to a +16 gain setting and the electromagnetically coupled device was set to the +8 gain setting.

Conclusions: Individuals with contemporary sound processors may show more favorable speech-recognition performance in noise electromagnetically coupled FM systems (i.e., Oticon Arc), which is most likely related to the input processing and signal processing pathway within the CI sound processor for direct input versus telecoil input. Further research is warranted to replicate these findings with a larger sample size and to develop and validate a more objective approach to fitting FM systems to CI sound processors.