A cochlear implant user with exceptional musical hearing ability

Mohammad Maarefvand, Jeremy Marozeau, Peter J. Blamey

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although the perception of music is generally poor in cochlear implant users, there are a few excellent performers. Objective: The aim of this study was the assessment of different aspects of music perception in one exceptional cochlear implant user. Design: The assessments included pitch direction discrimination, melody and timbre recognition, relative and absolute pitch judgment, and consonance rating of musical notes presented through the sound processor(s). Study sample: An adult cochlear implant user with musical background who lost her hearing postlingually, and five normally-hearing listeners with musical training participated in the study. Results: The CI user discriminated pitch direction for sounds differing by one semitone and recognized melody with nearly 100% accuracy. Her results in timbre recognition were better than average published data for cochlear implant users. Her consonance rating, and relative and absolute pitch perception were comparable to normally-hearing listeners with musical training. Conclusion: The results in this study showed that excellent performance is possible on musical perception tasks including pitch perception using present day cochlear implant technologies. Factors that may explain this user's exceptional performance are short duration of deafness, pre-and post-deafness musical training, and perfect pitch abilities before the onset of deafness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)424-432
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Pitch direction discrimination
  • Melody recognition
  • Timbre recognition
  • Absolute pitch
  • Relative pitch
  • Consonance rating
  • Cochlear implant
  • Music perception


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