Saturday, May 28, 2022

Cochlear Implants & Music Perception

Post 1- Cochlear Implants and Music Interpretation

Cochlear implantation is an effective and safe treatment for clinically deaf individuals all over the world. The purpose of a cochlear implant is to partially restore a sense of hearing. This electronic device is more beneficial than hearing aids because the implant bypasses sound past the damage of the inner ear to allow sounds to be interpreted.
But for implant users, music is interpreted differently than our non-hard of hearing individuals. Enjoyment of music is linked to the recognition of a familiar song or tune, so the ability to identify familiar songs is a common assessment of cochlear implant music perception. Not only can implant users understand speech sounds, they can now perceive nonspeech sounds such as music. Hugh J. McDermott, writer of “Music Perception with Cochlear Implants” reviews experimental results with psychophysical observations and device function can enhance implant users' experience with music perception. As discussed in the article, McDermott mentions that the conversion of sound input levels into electric stimulation levels most likely results in a loudness perception for complex sounds that differs between implant users and normally hearing listeners (McDemott). In essence, a cochlear implant user needs to have a wider range of frequency than understanding speech which has a narrow range. Temporal elements describe how the brain connects different regions to process musical and vocal sounds. With this stimulation in the brain, individuals are able to understand music without lyrics better than with lyrics. There are a plethora of factors influencing how users of cochlear implants use and perceive music, as stated in McDermott’s article and from cochlear implant users. 

Attached is an example of a piano playing a simple tune heard by a person with no issues with hearing and another of the same piano tune heard by a cochlear implant. As a non-hard of hearing person, the simulation of the piano through the implant was unpleasant and even terrifying to listen to. 

Cochlear Implant (CI) Technology and Music: Music Perception, Music Enjoyment, Cochlear Implant Simulations of Music | Iowa Head and Neck Protocols (

In essence, people who have cochlear implants hear music differently than those who are hearing, and even with hearing aids.

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