Cochlear-Implant Users May ‘Hear’ Musical Beat When it comes to cochlear-implant users and music, it’s all about that beat, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center published in the Hearing Research journal. Although previous research suggests CIs are unable to transmit the pitch and tone quality of music to a user’s ... Research in Brief
Free
Research in Brief  |   May 01, 2015
Cochlear-Implant Users May ‘Hear’ Musical Beat
Author Notes
Article Information
Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   May 01, 2015
Cochlear-Implant Users May ‘Hear’ Musical Beat
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.20052015.13
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.20052015.13
When it comes to cochlear-implant users and music, it’s all about that beat, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center published in the Hearing Research journal.
Although previous research suggests CIs are unable to transmit the pitch and tone quality of music to a user’s auditory nerve—music is instead experienced as noise—the new study may have found that CI users with profound hearing loss respond to strong beats, like those from drums, in music through body movements.
“The cochlear implant is designed for language perception—which works, though with some flaws, for the population studied—but not for music perception,” says lead author Jessica Phillips-Silver, postdoctoral researcher at GUMC’s Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition. “By using music that emphasizes a beat, we may be able to improve both.”
In the study, the researchers measured the ability of nine CI users and nine control participants with normal hearing to synchronize their body movement in time to three versions of a popular Latin dance song (full Merengue, piano-based and drum-based) that features heavy, regular beats. A Nintendo Wii controller strapped to each participant’s torso captured the movement.
Both groups moved in sync with the beat of drum music, and although hearing participants did show stronger synchronization, “the advantage of drum music to implant users is likely reduction of the complexity of the music, as well as absence of pitch variation, which cannot be processed by the implants,” Phillips-Silver says.
Listening to beat-driven music could hold many benefits for CI users, the researchers note: Improving rhythmic synchronization and brain plasticity can enhance not just musical skills, but also speech perception, spoken language and reading skills.
The researchers suggest exposing young CI wearers to music education using unpitched percussive instruments and having them dance to music featuring a prominent beat (such as stepping, drill teams, hip-hop, tap dance, belly dance and flamenco).
“There is so much enjoyment in music—a strong beat activates the joy of body movement,” Phillips-Silver says. “What we hear is what we feel, and what we feel is what we hear.”
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2015
Volume 20, Issue 5