In complex auditory environments, it is often difficult to separate a target talker from interfering speech. For normal hearing (NH) adult listeners, similarity between the target and interfering speech leads to increased difficulty in separating them; that is, informational masking occurs due to confusability of the target and interferers. This study investigated performance of children with bilateral cochlear implants (BiCIs) when target and interferers were either same-sex (male) talkers, or different-sex talkers (male target, female interferer). Comparisons between children with BiCIs and NH, when matched for age, were also conducted. Speech intelligibility was measured for target and interferers spatially co-located, or spatially separated with the interferers positioned symmetrically (+90° and −90°) or asymmetrically (both at +90°, right). Spatial release from masking (SRM) was computed as the difference between co-located and separated conditions. Within group BiCI comparisons revealed that in the co-located condition speech intelligibility was worse with the same-sex vs different-sex stimuli. There was also a trend for more SRM with the same-sex vs different-sex stimuli. When comparing BiCI to NH listeners, SRM was larger for the NH groups, suggesting that NH children are better able to make use of spatial cues to improve speech understanding in noise.

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