Hearing Through A Device: Cochlear Implants

A Cochlear implant is used by people who have problems with sound perception and reception. It is implanted surgically and is a neuroprosthesis that helps a person with bilateral average to extreme sensorineural loss of hearing. This can be achieved with the help of therapy aiming to improve speech that can be used in both quiet and noisy environments.

This article will further dive into the science behind Cochlear implants and their modern effects.

What is a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants were commercially developed in the early 1980’s for patients suffering from bilateral to acute sensorineural hearing loss as a therapeutic intervention. A cochlear implant is a small electrically powered device that stimulates the nerve for hearing, the cochlear nerve. It consists of external and internal parts in terms of structure. The implant may provided the ability to help restore speech that is affected by hearing loss.

Cochlear implants avoid the portions of the ear that are damaged, and stimulate the auditory nerve directly. Signals produced by the device are then sent to the brain to be processed and understood.

Sound and the physical sense of hearing are different through a Cochlear implant than through natural hearing methods, but there is often therapy for the patient to “unlearn” the traditional way and adjust to hearing through an electronic device.

How do they work?

The new technology that involves cochlear impants compromises of a processor to help with speech, a microphone that is placed externally, an internal stimulator and receiver, an RF data transmitter, and an electrode array placed in the back of the ear through a surgical procedure.

Frequencies of individual electrodes are mapped, using strategies such as speech-coding, in order to separate external speech signals. These are then divided into bands of frequencies which are then studied for their spectral content to amplitude-modulate a biaphasic pulse train that directly or indirectly activates the stimulating electrode. The Cochlear implant consists of two major components: the microphone and the receiver. The microphone is worn externally and acts as a transmitter system. It is also the sound processor for the implant. The receiver and the electrode system consist of electric circuts that work with the help of signals that are sent to the inner ear as electrical currents, as well as signals received from the external system.

Pressure waves force the plate of the external system to move inward against the fluid of the cochlea implant and the membrane is moved by the force. Different frequency waves put different amounts of pressure and transmission patters, and the implant takes these waves and oscillations, converting them into a pattern that the brain can analyze and interpret.


Cochlear implants are a fairly modern and developing neurotechnology. With the help of internal and external components, they are able to electronically recreate the science behind hearing. Cochlear impacts continue to impact millions of people worldwide today.


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Image credit: https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-aids/cochlear-implants


About the Author

Aalika Malik

Guest Writer for The Hope Project

Aalika is a psychologist in the making with a passion for working for the betterment of society. She hopes to work towards removing the stigma that surrounds the concept of mental wellness.

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