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Helping cochlear implant users to enjoy music

Date: 04/02/2014

A multi-disciplinary team of academics have contributed their expertise to a new computer-based music rehabilitation programme to help cochlear implant (CI) users enjoy music again.

It is a free, online music aural rehabilitation programme developed with adult CI users over three years through a series of consultations, music workshops and a trial. It now includes a larger library of music, featuring major artists such as Sir Cliff Richard and 10cc.

The multidisciplinary team behind the project included Professor David Nicholls, Drs Ben Oliver, Richard Polfreman and Ms Sarah Hodkinson from the University of Southampton, and the research was funded by the AHRC. It also involved contributions from colleagues in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, and from Electronics and Computer Science.

Dr Ben Oliver says: Cochlear implants can enable severely or profoundly deaf people to perceive sounds and understand speech. However, current devices are very poor at conveying pitch information and therefore, although many CI users express a desire to hear music again, many are dissatisfied with the way music sounds through their implant.

We hope that Interactive Music Awareness Programme helps CI users re-engage with music and help them recognise specific features of music through their implant, such as melodic pitch and the timbre of musical instruments.

The programme guides the user through 24 half-hour sessions with written and subtitled video instructions on how to use one of over 20 interactive applications. These applications allow the user to create, manipulate and play music using different combinations of instruments, pitch ranges and rhythms. Each session ends with a mini online listening task (to help users discover new music on the web) or a fun test (to see how much the user has learned).

Undertake the online workshops on the Interactive Music Awareness Programme website (opens in new window).

Find out more about music composition for cochlear implant users in a short AHRC film:

For further information, please contact:

Alex Pryce, AHRC: 01793 416025 a.pryce@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more.  This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: www.ahrc.ac.uk
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