Cochlear implant-mediated perception of music

Charles J. Limb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This paper examines and consolidates recent advances in cochlear implant sound processing from the perspective of music perception, which is increasingly viewed as one of the most difficult of all listening conditions. RECENT FINDINGS: Music is an essentially abstract, complex form of sound composed of multiple layers of sounds that vary in temporal presentation, frequency distribution, and harmonic content. As a result, music perception is perhaps the most challenging aspect of implant-mediated listening. Thus far, implant performance has shown poor performance overall during perception of musical pitches, melodies, and timbre while perception of rhythm is relatively good. Recent advances in implant sound processing strategies, particularly the use of current distribution along adjacent electrodes, have promising early results in terms of improving the number of pitch percepts available to cochlear implant listeners. SUMMARY: Music perception poses auditory challenges that can exceed those of language perception during cochlear implant-mediated listening. These challenges should be emphasized to patients prior to implantation. Although rhythm perception via cochlear implants is reasonably good using simple test paradigms, significant work remains to improve critically important aspects of music perception, including melody and timbre. New implant processing strategies are encouraging and should lead to improved music perception in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-340
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


  • Cochlear implant
  • Melody
  • Music
  • Pitch
  • Rhythm
  • Timbre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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