Cochlear Implants and Music Perception: 2015
Wang, Zhou, and Xu (2011) evaluated 19 adult cochlear implant (CI) uses with regard to pitch perception. They reported that normal hearing listeners could identify changes in pitch of 0.4 semitones (the difference in two neighboring keys on a piano is one semitone). However, on average, people with CIs required 5.5 semitones (i.e., 5.5 keys white keys on a piano) to notice a change in pitch. Of note, the range of performance for the CI group was from 0.8 semitones to 19.6 semitones.
Zeng, Tang, and Lu (2014) reported that CIs produce good speech perception and poor music perception due to poor electric pitch discriminability.
Prentiss et al (2015) reported differences in music perception with acoustic and electric (cochlear implant, CI) hearing. They examined chord discrimination using a same/different task and they examined timbre perception using ten musical instruments in a forced choice protocol. Their subjects included 14 people with a unilateral CI, 14 people with contralateral bimodal (CIHA, cochlear implant one side, hearing aid on the other), 14 people with bilateral hearing aids (HAHA), and 14 normal hearing (NH) listeners.
Prentiss et al reported that chord discrimination and timbre perception is reduced in people with hearing loss and timbre was the more difficult of the two tasks. Recognizing which instrument was creating sound was the most difficult for people with CIs, and as expected, it was a very easy task for people with NH. The authors suggest that timbre may “…serve as a measure of the quality of sound perception….” They stated that “having acoustic hearing improved performance (as) compared to electric hearing only….” And, “timbre perception distinguished those with acoustic hearing from those with electric hearing….”
For More Information, Recommendations, and References
Prentiss SM, Friedland DR, Nash JJ, Runge CL. (2015) Differences in Perception of Musical Stimuli Among Acoustic, Electric, and Combined Mondality Listeners. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 26:494-501.
Tang Q, Lu T. (2014) Abnormal Pitch Perception Produced by Cochlear Implant Stimulation. Plus One 9(2):e88662.
Want W, Zhou N, Xu L. (2011) Musical Pitch and Lexical Tone Perception with Cochlear Implants. International Journal of Audiology 50:270-278.