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Understanding Music with Cochlear ImplantsPicture from Pixabay (Free to use)

Understanding Music with Cochlear Implants

Direct stimulation of the auditory nerve via a Cochlear Implant (CI) enables profoundly hearing-impaired people to perceive sounds. Many CI users find language comprehension satisfactory, but music perception is generally considered difficult. However, music contains different dimensions which might be accessible in different ways. We study three main dimensions of music processing in CI users which rely on different processing mechanisms: (1) musical discrimination abilities, (2) access to meaning in music, and (3) subjective music appreciation. All three dimensions are investigated in different CI user groups (postlingually deafened CI users, prelingually deafened CI users implanted as adults). The meaning of music was studied by using event-related potentials (with the N400 component as marker) during a music-word priming task while music appreciation was gathered by a questionnaire. The results reveal a double dissociation between the three dimensions of music processing. For example, despite impaired discrimination abilities of CI users compared to a control group, appreciation was reduced in postlingual, but not in prelingual CI users. While musical meaning processing was restorable in postlingual CI users, as shown by a N400 effect, data of prelingual CI users implanted as adults lack the N400 effect and indicate previous dysfunctional concept building.

Data shows event-related potentials for the processing of musical semantics on a representative electrode (Cz). Musical excerpts were followed by a visually presented target words which were either congruent or incongruent to the musical pieces.  Significant differences between conditions are marked with shaded areas in the waveforms. Postlingually deafened adults display a N400 effect similar to matched normal hearing controls, indicating that the processing of musical semantic content can be restored in CI users with previous hearing experience. By contrast, prelingually deafened participants, who received a CI as adults, did not show a N400 effect. Figure from Bruns et al. (https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32026) licensed under CC BY 4.0
Data shows event-related potentials for the processing of musical semantics on a representative electrode (Cz). Musical excerpts were followed by a visually presented target words which were either congruent or incongruent to the musical pieces. Significant differences between conditions are marked with shaded areas in the waveforms. Postlingually deafened adults display a N400 effect similar to matched normal hearing controls, indicating that the processing of musical semantic content can be restored in CI users with previous hearing experience. By contrast, prelingually deafened participants, who received a CI as adults, did not show a N400 effect. Figure from Bruns et al. (https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32026) licensed under CC BY 4.0

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