This study investigated the role of contextual information in speech intelligibility, the influence of verbal working memory on the use of contextual information, and the suitability of an ecologically valid sentence test containing contextual information, compared with a CNC (Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant) word test, in cochlear implant (CI) users. Speech intelligibility performance was assessed in 50 postlingual adult CI users on sentence lists and on CNC word lists. Results were compared with a normal-hearing (NH) group. The influence of contextual information was calculated from three different context models. Working memory capacity was measured with a Reading Span Test. CI recipients made significantly more use of contextual information in recognition of CNC words and sentences than NH listeners. Their use of contextual information in sentences was related to verbal working memory capacity but not to age, indicating that the ability to use context is dependent on cognitive abilities, regardless of age. The presence of context in sentences enhanced the sensitivity to differences in sensory bottom-up information but also increased the risk of a ceiling effect. A sentence test appeared to be suitable in CI users if word scoring is used and noise is added for the best performers.

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Keywords cochlear implants, speech intelligibility, speech reception threshold, contextual information, working memory, cognition
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Journal Trends in Hearing
Dingemanse, J.G., & Goedegebure, A. (2019). The Important Role of Contextual Information in Speech Perception in Cochlear Implant Users and Its Consequences in Speech Tests. Trends in Hearing, 23. doi:10.1177/2331216519838672