CIM: Cochlear Implant Music

Project Description:


The CIM project aims at developing a musical instrument for Cochlear Implant users. Special attention will be focused on the interactive usability of the music instrument and the development of new strategies that address the Cochlear Implant, based on the concept of embodied music cognition. The project involved collaboration with Cochelar and the University Hospital Ghent.

CIM – Cochlear Implant Music: Bringing music back into the life of cochlear implant users, and fostering their rehabilitation and social integration trough musical interaction.

In this project, we develop and test a music instrument for people with a Cochlear Implant (CI) enabling them to create and enjoy music. We will also provide the opportunity to do this together with other CI users and/or other normal hearing people. The instrument will be controlled through gestures, and it will access the electrodes of the Cochlear Implant directly (without using audio.)


The objective of the CIM-project is threefold:

  1. Bringing music back to the life for cochlear implantees by allowing them to create their own music. Post-lingually deaf CI users cannot appreciate normal music anymore, since an implant can only stimulate a limited number of inharmonic frequency bands. In this project we approach music from a CI user’s point of view, taking into account the restrictions, but also the possibilities of a cochlear implant.
  2. Using music as tool for auditory CI-rehabilitation. By using the CIM instrument the user will stimulate the full range of frequencies possible by the implant, rather than the restricted frequencies needed for speech. This stimulation of the broader frequency spectrum can enhance the perception of sounds by the user in a more profound way than in the case of traditional rehabilitation methods.
  3. Using music as a way to enhance social integration. Music fosters contacts with other users, for example, through interactions with others and through the creation of a social network where experiences and music-related material for Cochlear Implants can be exchanged. With the SWIFT grant we will test a first prototype of the CIM-device that is further developed within the European project EBRAMUS (FP7). Research needs to be done at the level of CI music creation, as well as the ergonomics of the system. This prototype can be accomplished by performing monthly tests providing user feedback and the resulting development of the hardware and software. This will bring the CIM-synthesizer into a broader musical interactive platform and context that will enable CI users to experience music that is pleasing for them. The same technology can be used by different CI users in a way that enables them to make music together, opening up a new world of social interaction. For this task we will hire a scientific collaborator for 10 months.
Promotors: Prof. Dr. Marc Leman
Dr. Micheline Lesaffre
Collaborators: UZGent (University Hospital Ghent)
Cochlear Technology Centre Belgium
Researchers: Lize Raes
Richard Penninger
Financial Support:

King Baudouin foundation – SWIFT Fund