Friday, February 29, 2008

What does a cochlear implant sound like?

What does Erin hear?

Does she hear 100%?  

She talks just fine! You worry too much.  Why does she still go to speech therapy?

She isn't deaf anymore, right?


These are questions I hear from people all the time. It is very difficult to explain that while Erin can "hear" down to 10 - 20 db, she does not hear as clearly as you and I. It is actually very hard to say exactly what she does hear.  She has never known sound in any other form so isn't able to describe how it differs from what we hear.

I came across an excellent set of Cochlear Implant Simulation Demos today that do a great job of explaining just what Erin may hear. The demos give examples of what CI users hear on 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 Channel Implants.

There are 4 Demos:

The following text is taken directly from the House Ear Institute's website. I offer the text and links for the convenience of our readers and in no way imply ownership of this information.

Decrease_Channels contains the original sentence first and then progressively degrades the spectral resolution. The order is: original, 32 channels, 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1 channel. Since the content of the sentence is known, it is possible to understand the sentences down to 4 and even 2 spectral channels. Most cochlear implant listeners are in the 4 to 8 channel range.

Increase_Channels presents the demonstration in the reverse order - starting from poor quality, so that the content of the sentence is not understood at first. As the number of channels is increased from 1 to 2 to 4 you will start to understand the words in the sentence at 4 channels. From 4 to 8 to 32 channels the words are clearer and the sound has better quality. Finally, the original sentence is played.

Music1 presents a clip of a very familiar popular song, with a single male singer. First you will hear the song with 4 channels, then 8, 16, and 32 channels. Finally you will hear the original music clip. Notice that you may understand the words of the song at 4 or 8 channels, even though you may not recognize the melody. Even at 16 and 32 channels the melody is not very good quality.

Music2 presents the opening lines of a very popular and familiar piece of instrumental music. As with previous demo, the number of channels increases from 4 to 8 to 16 to 32. The original music clip is played at the end. Note that you will probably not recognize it even with 32 channels. However if you listen to the sequence repeatedly you will notice that some melodic information is available with 16 and 32 channels, although the quality is still poor compared to the original.


Erin's
Nucleus Freedom Implant has 22 channels. I am not an electronics engineer or an audiologist... but I believe this means Erin hears slightly less clearly than the 32 Channel simulation.

I noticed as I listened to the demos second, third and fourth times, that the speech and music became more apparent to me on the lower channels. I imagine this is very similar to what adult users of CIs describe when they say that at first sound is very strange... but eventually starts to become more clear. I'd love to hear what the CI adults think of these demos. I wonder what you hear when they are played?

I found these links on this page
this page of the House Ear Institute's website.

Their website is an excellent source of information.

I'd like to thank Logan's mom for posting the link to the demos on her blog.

24 comments:

diber said...

"not deaf anymore?" OMG!!!!

Wow! Thanks for linking to those!! I've been wanting to find some demos.

misstrey28 said...

This is very interesting. It will be interesting to see what the adult CI users say about this if they decide to comment.

I also get comments about Tayten not being deaf anymore and I also get, "So how long will he have to wear those things?" My response? "As long as he wants."

Anonymous said...

I am an adult CI. It's true the first few hours (and sometimes days) at switch on the sound was strange. But liken it to walking into a bright light out of darkness; your eyes need to adjust. So too my hearing nerve, which hadn't been stimulated in 30 years, needed to adjust and wake up. Felicity fbleckly@gmail.com

For me none of the audio sounds on the interent supposedly like that of the way CI hears are true.

For me the sound is very close to what I remember. I was able to identify a distant relative, by voice alone on the telephone just two months after implant, someone I hadn't even seen in many, many years. This tells me that what I hear is very similar to what I used to hear.

Music sounds like music and I can identify and love listening to it. I enjoy playing the piano again.

Some very complex sounds are more difficult to interpret (eg a chord on the piano with 12 notes in it. I have difficulty in knowing whether maybe one of those notes are wrong... but many hearing people would too!)

Basically I have 100% hearing in one ear and can understand pretty much everything I hear

The Breeder said...

Oh WOW!! And WOW on the commenter who is the adult CI.

And yeah, not shocked by the idiots who say idiotic things....

Jen said...

wow - those demos are so interesting. Thank you for posting them

Abbie said...

That is pretty cool, I can tell the when the sound quality changes. Even when the ranges are between 4-8 channel mode, I can say I might hear like that in noise but certainly not in quiet. The clarity and quality that I hear in is NOWHERE near to what I am hearing from those files.

Just wait until you get the "does that mean she can hear a 100%?" I *HATE* that one...

Mom to Toes said...

Abbie, I totally forgot that one! It is probably the #1 question.

What does "100%" mean???

going to update the post...

Anonymous said...

The answer to "does she hear 100% now?" is "yes! she hears 100% of what she hears!" Stupid questions deserve stupid answers!

P

Shiloh said...

I get those questions too for Isaac. When people meet Isaac, I tell them he is Deaf and they look so puzzled because he can hear me and talk. They will say, "If he can hear you then he's not Deaf right?". Sometimes it is so complicated to explain to people. Thanks for posting the links to hear what an implant sounds like. It actually made me cry when I heard the instrumental one. I play the clarinet and hearing what Isaac would hear is nothing near what it really sounds like. It made me happy that he can hear, but sad that it isn't the clarity that I hear.

Christian's Mommy said...

Thanks for posting the simulations--it's really helpful!

Br00kie said...

hi i was searching on the internet because i am doing a project on the affects CI's have on children... i am CODA and i have been studying this topic for a while and i always wonder what the opposite view thinks.. and i am shocked. From a deafness-as-defect mindset why do hearing doctors, audiologists, PARENTS and teachers work keenly to make deaf children speak; to make these children "un-deaf"???? maybe you should consider looking into the affects CI's have on young children. do you realize many deaf children grow out of the crucial language phase, they become disabled by people who are anxious to make them "normal" Their lack of language, not of hearing, becomes their most severe handicap. While I support any method that works to give a child a richer life, I feel a system which focuses on abilities rather than deficiencies is far more valuable!
XXXX

Natalie said...

as a mom of a deaf newborn all i want is the best for him. School marriage education and a life where he can take and give.and for me there is nothing more hopeful than the implant my son will soon have. so that he can develop normally and enjoy life to the fullest.
Best invention ever the CI

Anonymous said...

I would like to review "Br00kie's" comment. You appear to be somewhat young and probably have no children with a hearing disability in a time when God has given us the wonderful invention of Cochlear implants. If you were born with no legs and were given the opportunity to receive titanium legs, would you not? if you had a mastectomy due to breast cancer and were given the opportunity to have an implant and total reconstruction, would you not? then why would i deny my child the right to live in society where she can hear?? I understand there are complications and many items to review before my daughter receives her implants at the tender age of 16 mths, however, she can choose "not" to use her receiver when she is old enough to make that decision. In the meantime, I would rather not upset her when she grows up and realizes mommy waited around for her to grow up and make her own decision. I want her to hear me when I yell upstairs for her to put on her pj's or when I sing at church...the sound may be different than you and I, but it will be HER sound. I'm saddened you don't understand what us mommy's go thru, but I hope one day you do not have to go thru this with your child. In the meantime, I'll pray for anyone, like you, who may have opinions, but need compassion. It is a hard place to be for me as a parent, but even harder for my child not to hear. My Paw Paw---who is almost blind at 92 and has some hearing, but not a lot---said "I would rather lose my sight completely than lose my hearing. That is the worst thing you could take from me." My daughter deserves her titanium legs! She is worth it all and will make a HUGE impact in the lives of others some day because of HER story. I'm blessed to be a part of her testimony.

ct said...

I am an adult ci, born hearing and lost my hearing suddently at age 12.Even with a C.I. I never felt I was part of the world you claim your child is now a part of.
Reality is that they probably aren't and never will be. They will go through life wearing the mask of hearing and trying their best to blend in even if they have to fake it. I've been faking it my whole life and I know I will be faking it until the day I die, unless God blesses me with natural hearing again. Deaf people in deaf culture that use sign language, in my opinion, have the luxury of accepting the fact they are deaf. Your analogy to breast cancer and no legs shows the flaw in your argument. You assume that deaf people...that have been here since the beginning of time, dont already have their own systems in place to live a full life in spite of the fact they do not hear. Though you did say you want your child to have the best in life...did you notice that your description seemed to be all about what would make your life easier rather than your child's? I am not against cochlear implants but I am definitely against disabling pedagogy that focuses on the child as a lesser human being in need of fixing. I'm against the thought processes that conclude a child must be made a part of the world rather than allowed to find their place in it. If you really want your child to live a happy and fulfilled life..give her the opportunity to be a part of Deaf culture and learn ASL. Otherwise, your claim that one day when she can decide for herself to not use her processor is simply a pipe dream. Having lived with and depended on a cochlear implant without being taught how to function without it makes it impossible to decide to not use it. I know this from firsthand experience. Cochlear implants are great, but they are still just man made devices and even minor glitches like running out of batteries or breaking the device are so stressful when you have never been taught how to exist without it. And, quite frankly, it's not a pretty situation having your entire existence in the hands of one tiny speech processor.

Anonymous said...

To CT...

"having your entire existence in the hands of a processor" c'mon...being a bit dramatic arent you? You learned how to walk, but it sure is nice to have a car to drive long distance in isnt it? Sure it would be a pain if the battery died and you were stuck (temporarily) but nothing that cant be fixed. We all rely on devices to get us through life, whether it be cars, computers, or the CI. Did you ever learn to live wihtout the toilet so you could be part of the "outhouse community"? Give me a break, there is a device that will really help you enjoy a certain part of life so use it. You sound bitter about something....get over it.

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f said...

To ct

Sure people without legs have a way to get a full life, its called a wheelchair. They can live a full life, but it may be more dificult.

If you are deaf, you may not consider yourself disabled, but communication may be harder... If you were from a tripe that used hiroglyphs to communicate. You just got dropped into a place where no one knows hiroglyphs and you know no English. Are you disabled? Physicly no, but communication wise, yes. And everything needs maintence. Like if a cell broke down, would you have no other way? Even if your CI broke, you still know english structure, you could just find some paper.

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Anonymous said...

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I don't like to be anonymous but I'm tired of having to sign up for my every move on the net, just call me JZ.

That being said, I wanted to share that my wife has had a CI for 26 years! She was born very hard of hearing and was always a little worse than the hearing aids of the day could help. At the tender age of 20, what little hearing she had left, went away, we could no longer communicate via telephone. At the age of 24 she got her implant, instant awareness of sound and soon "learned" to hear again. Anyone remember the old processors that took 2 or 3 AA batteries, were worn on a belt, weighed a ton and had the cord up to the microphone and antenna!!!!! She was so glad when the BTE models came out!

I told you all of that to tell you this, her N5 was implanted in her other ear 25 days ago and we go to Dallas in a few days for the initial hook-up! She's like a kid waiting for Christmas day! I hope and pray that this one is better than the one she currently has. I'm eager to see how she learns to localize sound, she's never had binaural hearing and is just amazed that with my eyes closed, I can point in the exact direction of a sound!!!
The bottom line is this, she's excited, I'm excited and I'll let you know how hookup day went next week.

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purplewowies said...

@Anonymous 10/23/09-

"You learned how to walk, but it sure is nice to have a car to drive long distance in isnt it? Sure it would be a pain if the battery died and you were stuck (temporarily) but nothing that cant be fixed. We all rely on devices to get us through life, whether it be cars, computers, or the CI."

Yes, but with a CI, you learn to hear, and when it doesn't work, you most likely will not be able to do that unless you have something else to help you. In the case of a car, this would be a bike (in the case of CI, hearing aids if applicable) or walking (ASL or another sign system). All of them have different benefits, and they all serve a purpose and have a special place in society. And ALL of them are important and needed.

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