In this inspiring video from a TED conference, cochlear implant (CI) surgeon and musician Charles Limb, associate professor, Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, at Johns Hopkins, explains the challenges of CI patients hearing music and the brain research that is being done to help restore the full range of human hearing abilities.
Limb is not only a professor and surgeon, but is also on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music.
In the video presentation, Limb makes the case that restoring the speech understanding of CI recipients is a great achievement, but not enough. He demonstrates the importance of music by simulating for the audience what CI patients hear when they listen to Beethoven and other melodic sounds, from a violin to a trumpet.
The talk then goes on to explain what’s missing from a CI patient’s hearing, namely, pitch perception and the ability to tell sounds apart.
Finally, Limb shows that there is hope for eventually restoring the full range of hearing, but that brain and hearing researchers have a long way to go.