Innovation >> Impact

Processing Method to Enhance Cochlear Implants for Pitch Comprehension

Principal Investigator: Kaibao Nie

Approximately 324,000 people who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing have received cochlear implants in the world. Current cochlear implants are sufficient for enabling the understanding of speech by producing electrical signals to stimulate nerves in response to the sound received by the microphone. However, the implants are not able to reproduce complex noises, such as music. One reason implants are not able to reproduce complex noise is because they operate at relatively low frequencies compared with the high frequencies of music, and the pitch cannot be transferred in coordination with the frequency. In order to generate the signals necessary to reproduce complex noise, new algorithms are needed to more accurately code the high freque

This invention is a method to process audio input to cochlear implants in order to generate signals which are sent to nerves via electrical stimulation. The method demodulates the audio signal in both amplitude and frequency so that a wider range of frequencies can be coded than what is currently used in cochlear implant algorithms. The signal is then shifted and modulated down to a lower frequency signal which is compatible with cochlear implants in order to map the pitch and frequencies. Ultimately, the processed signal is mapped to the stimulation electrodes on the cochlear implant. This method has been shown to improve perception of music on existing patients with one type of cochlear implant.

• Better understanding of tonal languages for cochlear implant wearers • Increased perception of music for cochlear implant wearers • Frequency-shifting can be used for allowing cochlear implant patients to interpret melodies. • Some existing and future cochlear implants can integrate this method. • This method can be used to map a wider range of pitches and frequencies in cochlear implants. • This invention improves the performance of cochlear implants by enabling a wider band of frequencies. • Interpretation of melodies and speech is improved on existing and new implants. • This method enables more complex sounds to be mapped than current techniques.

Additional Information

The UW has issued patents on this technology: 8,019,431 United States of America

For more info, contact: Laura Dorsey 206.685.6790

Categories: Bioengineering | Medical Devices | Software |