Revisiting the neural bottleneck of information transmission in cochlear implant users
In this project we will research a fully objective fitting process for cochlear implant fitting. This will be done by comparing and improving current EEG measurement methods, simplifying the analyses, improving the signal processing, and minimizing the number of electrodes needed. A clinical protocol for a fully objective fitting will be worked out for CIs, separately for 3 different sessions: Initial Fit, Fine-tuning and Optimizing speech understanding (using EASSR techniques to directly optimize the speech understanding ability of the recipient). Methods to record the essential objective measures with current and/or future cochlear implant systems will be worked out. If successful, this project will result in a clinical protocol for fully automated objective CI fittings and a method to execute the needed recordings with current implant hardware. The outcomes will allow to fit CIs without subjective, long, and insecure psychophysical procedures. This will lead to: a) More consistent and stable fittings as the procedure is based on an objective measure. b) Decreased fitting and aftercare time, freeing up capacity for addressing the unmet needs of patients without access to a hearing implant. c) More confidence in populations that cannot clearly execute the tasks needed for a classical fitting, such as persons with a mental disability or very young children. d) Breakthrough innovation in the CI care model. In this PhD the focus will be on the auditory behavioral and objective EEG aspects such as; the experimental part of the EEG, ASSR and other brain(stem) responses, connectivity, etc. This research is an essential part of the basic science studies that are carried out within a VLAIO project with Cochlear, the world market leader in cochlear implants.