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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2008;45(5):651-93.

Personal reflections on the multichannel cochlear implant and a view of the future.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002, Australia.


The multichannel cochlear implant is the first neural prosthesis to effectively and safely bring electronic technology into a direct physiological relation with the central nervous system and human consciousness. It is also the first cochlear implant to give speech understanding to tens of thousands of persons with profound deafness and spoken language to children born deaf in more than 80 countries. In so doing, it is the first major advance in research and technology to help deaf children communicate since Sign Language of the Deaf was developed at the Paris deaf school (L'Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris) >200 years ago. Furthermore, biomedical research has been fundamental for ensuring that the multielectrode implant is safe as well as effective. More recent research has also shown that bilateral implants confer the benefits of binaural hearing. Future research using nanotechnology should see high-fidelity sound received, which would help deaf persons communicate in noise and enjoy music. Research should also lead to implants in ears with useful hearing.

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