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Volume 45 Number 5, 2008
   Pages 779 — 790

Abstract - Music perception in cochlear implant users and its relationship with psychophysical capabilities

Ward R. Drennan, PhD;1* Jay T. Rubinstein, MD, PhD1-2

1V. M. Bloedel Hearing Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA; 2Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Abstract — This article describes issues concerning music perception with cochlear implants, discusses why music perception is usually poor in cochlear implant users, reviews relevant data, and describes approaches for improving music perception with cochlear implants. Pitch discrimination ability ranges from the ability to hear a one-semitone difference to a two-octave difference. The ability to hear rhythm and tone duration is near normal in implantees. Timbre perception is usually poor, but about two-thirds of listeners can identify instruments in a closed set better than chance. Cochlear implant recipients typically have poor melody perception but are aided with rhythm and lyrics. Without rhythm or lyrics, only about one-third of implantees can identify common melodies in a closed set better than chance. Correlations have been found between music perception ability and speech understanding in noisy environments. Thus, improving music perception might also provide broader clinical benefit. A number of approaches have been proposed to improve music perception with implant users, including encoding fundamental frequency with modulation, "current-steering," MP3-like processing, and nerve "conditioning." If successful, these approaches could improve the quality of life for implantees by improving communication and musical and environmental awareness.

Key words: cochlear implant, deafness, hearing, hearing loss, music, perception, psychoacoustics, sound processing, spectral resolution, speech perception, speech processing.

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