Research aims to help deaf people with cochlear implants better enjoy music

A new study is investigating how to help deaf people who have received a cochlear implant to get more enjoyment from music.

Cochlear implants allow people with severe-to-profound hearing loss, who do not substantially benefit from conventional hearing aids, to perceive and understand speech. However, the current technology often cannot cope with the complexities of music.

“Hearing people speak again changes lives but many of our patients tell us they still can’t enjoy music,” explains Dr Rachel van Besouw, from University of Southampton. “They say they can hear rhythm but have problems distinguishing notes. We want to investigate ways we can help them.”

Through a series of innovative music workshops, in conjunction with Southampton Community Music Project, this project will explore aspects of music that can be appreciated by cochlear implant users through a variety of listening, computer-based and practical activities.This knowledge will be used to guide the development of music rehabilitation materials and compositions specifically for cochlear implant users. The two-year project will conclude with a public seminar and performance at the university.

“We want to build a computer tool kit of listening exercises that people can listen to at home, which will help them to distinguish, recognise and appreciate different musical sounds,” adds music professor Professor David Nicholls.

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