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How cochlear implants encode speech.

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Departments of Otolaryngology and Bioengineering, The University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.



This review summarizes the history of cochlear implant signal processing and provides the rationale underlying current approaches. Present strategies are explained and recent research findings are summarized. It is suggested how these results may drive future advancements in signal processing.


Substantial advances have been made in our understanding of the spectral and temporal cues necessary for cochlear implant recipients to perceive music, speech in noise, and interaural timing. It is clear that higher levels of both spectral and temporal resolution, as well as better loudness and pitch coding are necessary for higher levels of performance. These factors are highly interrelated, however, and are beneficial for differing aspects of hearing. Signal processing algorithms incorporating these findings are under active development and some are currently undergoing clinical investigation.


Current implant devices, and those soon to be available, have substantial untapped potential to improve the auditory experience of their recipients. It is likely that in the near future, recent findings on pitch and loudness perception, as well as techniques to better emulate the normal functions of the cochlea will result in much higher levels of prosthetic hearing fidelity than are possible today. As the performance of these remarkable devices continues to improve, the population of hearing-impaired individuals who can benefit from implantation is likely to increase significantly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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