Improving Music Perception

Nov 8, 2022 | House Institute Foundation, Research

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House Institute researcher Dr. John Galvin is on a mission.  

John Galvin, PhD, has been a cochlear implant researcher for more than twenty years. Most recently, Dr. Galvin teamed up with Dr. David Landsberger for a study on improving music perception in people with cochlear implants. 

“While speech sounds great for many cochlear implant listeners, the sound of music could be improved.”

This is due to a limited number of electrodes placed during cochlear implant surgery and the “functional spectral resolution”, in which the amount of information delivered to the brain is much less than the number of implanted electrodes. Musical notes and tone quality can be degraded or distorted when a cochlear implant processes the sound.

“We’re dealing with a very coarse representation of music and what we want to improve that. Which brings us to this special patient population: single-sided deaf cochlear implant users.”

Single-sided deaf cochlear implant users have normal hearing in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other ear. As such, pitch, timbre, or any musical attribute can be compared between the CI ear and the normal hearing ear within the same patient. This can provide unique insights into music perception with a CI.

“We want to discover what music sounds like within this population, and why music tends to sound better when using both the cochlear implant and normal hearing ear together. With this study, we’re doing tricks experimentally to figure this out, which will hopefully also give us valuable insight into how we might improve the type of simulation that’s used for the cochlear implant.”

Dr. Galvin’s and Dr. Landsberger’s research could provide clinical guidance on how best to optimize the relationship between acoustic and electrical hearing to work well together, hopefully improving music sound quality for cochlear implant patients with usable acoustic hearing.


John J. Galvin III

About John Galvin, PhD 

John Galvin, PhD has been a cochlear implant researcher for more than twenty years pursuing a range of research interests including single-and multi-channel psychophysical studies, speech perception (English and other languages), sound source localization, music perception, and auditory training.

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