Why People with a Cochlear Implant Listen to Music

Jérémy Marozeau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The cochlear implant (CI) is the most successful neural prosthetic device in the market. It allows hundreds of thousands of people around the world to regain a sense of hearing. However, unlike a pair of glasses that can restore vision perfectly, the CI still has some shortcomings for non-speech sounds such as music and environmental sounds. Many studies have shown that most CI users have great difficulties perceiving pitch differences or recognizing simple melodies without words or rhythmical cues. Consequently, CI users report finding music less pleasant compared to their pre-deafness period. Despite this, many of those users do not entirely reject music, and it is not uncommon to see young CI users listening to music all day, or even playing an instrument. Listening to music is an experience that arises from more than the sum of the sensations induced by the basic elements of music: pitch, timbre and rhythm. Listening to music is a pleasant experience because it prompts high-level cognitive aspects such as emotional reactions, needs to dance, or the feeling of musical tension. Therefore, CI users still engaged in musical activities might experience some of these high-level features. In this paper, I will review recent studies on music perception in CI listeners and demonstrate that, although most CI users have difficulties with perceiving pitch, additional music cues such as tempo and dynamic range might contribute positively to their enjoyment of music.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerception, Representations, Image, Sound, Music - 14th International Symposium, CMMR 2019, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsRichard Kronland-Martinet, Sølvi Ystad, Mitsuko Aramaki
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9783030702090
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event14th International Symposium on Computer Music Multidisciplinary Research: Perception, Representations, Image, Sound, Music - Marseille, France
Duration: 14 Oct 201918 Oct 2019
Conference number: 14


Conference14th International Symposium on Computer Music Multidisciplinary Research
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12631 LNCS


  • Cochlear implant
  • Music and deafness


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