“Listening to music with bionic ears: Identification of musical instruments and genres by cochlear implant listeners”

Ying Hsiao – ying_y_hsiao@rush.edu
Chad Walker
Megan Hebb
Kelly Brown
Jasper Oh
Stanley Sheft
Valeriy Shafiro – Valeriy_Shafiro@rush.edu
Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences
Rush University
600 S Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Kara Vasil
Aaron Moberly
Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
410 W 10th Ave
Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Popular version of paper 4APP28
Presented Thursday morning, May 16, 2019
177th ASA Meeting, Louisville, KY

For many people, music is an integral part of everyday life. We hear it everywhere: cars, offices, hallways, elevators, restaurants, and, of course, concert halls and peoples’ homes. It can often make our day more pleasant and enjoyable, but its ubiquity also makes it easy to take it for granted. But imagine if the music you heard around you sounded garbled and distorted. What if you could no longer tell apart different instruments that were being played, rhythms were no longer clear, and much of it sounded out of tune? This unfortunate experience is common for people with hearing loss who hear through cochlear implants, or CIs, the prosthetic devices that convert sounds around a person to electrical signals that are then delivered directly to the auditory nerve, bypassing the natural sensory organ of hearing – the inner ear. Although CIs have been highly effective in improving speech perception for people with severe to profound hearing loss, music perception has remained difficult and frustrating for people with CIs.

Audio 1.mp4, “Music processed with the cochlear implant simulator, AngelSim by Emily Shannon Fu Foundation”
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Audio 2.mp4, “Original version [“Take Five” by Francesco Muliedda is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA]”
[insert audio 2 here]

To find out how well CI listeners identify musical instruments and music genres, we used a version of a previously developed test – Appreciation of Music in Cochlear Implantees (AMICI). Unlike other tests that examine music perception in CI listeners using simple-structured musical stimuli to pinpoint specific perceptual challenges, AMICI takes a more synthetic approach and uses real-world musical pieces, which are acoustically more complex. Our findings confirmed that CI listeners indeed have considerable deficits in music perception. Participants with CIs correctly identify musical instruments only 69% of the time and musical genres 56% of the time, whereas their age-matched normal-hearing peers identified instruments and genres with 99% and 96% correct, respectively. The easiest instrument for CI listeners were drums, which were correctly identified 98% of the time. In contrast, the most difficult instrument was flute, with only 18% identification accuracy. Flute was more often, 77% of the time, confused with string instruments. Among the genres, identification of classical music was the easiest, reaching 83% correct, while Latin and rock/pop music were most difficult (41% correct). Remarkably, CI listeners’ abilities to identify musical instruments and genres correlated with their ability to identify common environmental sounds (such as dog barking, car horn) and also spoken sentences in noise. These results provide a foundation for future work that will focus on rehabilitation in music perception for CI listeners, so that music may sound pleasing and enjoyable to them once again, with possible additional benefits for speech and environmental sound perception.

 

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