Background: Numerous people with cochlear implants (CI) report difficulties in listening to music even though they understand speech quite well. One reason for this is a limited perception of pitch and timbre. In this study ability of adult CI subjects to discriminate musical pitch is investigated.
Patients and methods: In two psychoacoustic experiments, each conducted in 10 adult CI subjects provided with MED-EL Combi 40+ cochlear implant devices and a control group of subjects with normal hearing, individual discrimination abilities for musical pitch perception were determined. To investigate the influence of the group of instruments on discrimination ability, stimuli representing four different groups of instruments were used: woodwind (clarinet), brass (trumpet), strings (violin) and keyboard instruments (piano).
Results: The discrimination thresholds determined varied between individual CI subjects, and on average they were significantly higher for the piano than for the other three instruments.
Conclusions: The results show that in subjects with CI pitch perception differs from instrument to instrument and is in general worse than in persons with normal hearing.