on December 12th, 2016

Researchers in Columbia University Cochlear Implant Center are investigating a way to engineer music so that people who have cochlear implants might actually be able to enjoy music.

Cochlear implants are engineered to make speech sound clearer to people who are past the point of utilizing an amplifying hearing aid, however, it is reported by implantees that they have lost the ability to enjoy music. 

The researchers from Columbia University intend to, "test the hypothesis that reengineering music to reduce its complexity can enhance the listening experience for the cochlear implant," they stated in an abstract of their official research article.

The group alleges that it is much simpler for implantees to process speech than the more complex nature of music. Anil Lalwani, MD, a Cochlear Implant Surgeon at Coloumbia University says, "A person who has lost hearing have lost not only some of the hair cells but they've lost some of the nerves that transmit that information to the brain." 

The hope is that in the future a specialized type of music can exist for people who have cochlear implants so they could start or go back to enjoying music. Dr Lalwani believes software should exist that reengineers music so that it appeals solely to cochlear implantees.

Les Atlas, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington spoke to NPR, alluding to the fact that it would take a lot of computing power to achieve the encoding of the elements implantees require to listen to music normally. 

The fact of the matter is that better implants need to be engineered and designed to facilitate listening to music for cochlear implantees. 


For a clearer idea of what music sounds like to a person who has a cochlear implant, check out this video: 









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