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Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Research at the University of Texas

  • Name
    Dorothy Hardy
    COG-MHEAR Research Fellow and Research Programme Manager

COG-MHEAR was delighted to welcome Professor John Hansen of the University of Texas in Dallas, to give an online talk on his research into cochlear implants. These are devices that include a surgical implant array and external processing unit which can restore a sense of hearing to individuals with profound hearing loss. He and his team are working to improve the way in which cochlear implants process sound, particularly in naturalistic settings such as restaurants, where there may be many different speakers and background noises. Variations in the language being spoken, accent, and even the emotion of the speaker, can make comprehension more difficult.

Prof Hansen has been involved in the development of CCi-MOBILE: a research platform that supports cochlear implant and hearing aid advancements for science and technology. This builds on the work of Philip Loizou, who realised that a type of mobile computing platform was needed for use with cochlear implants, originally based on older personal digital assistant (PDA) platforms. CCi-MOBILE is used with a portable interface that enables the wearer to adjust performance in many different environments, and also allows researchers to test different algorithms on the device. The device became known as CCi-MOBILE, which stands for Costaki’s cochlear implant mobile - named after Philip Loizou’s son. The work is funded by the US NIH (National Institutes of Health) and NIDCD (the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders).

The range of experiments that can be carried out on the device include testing methods of speech enhancement and assessment of intelligibility, as well as hearing science-based listener/perception experiments. Prof Hansen's group have recently completed extensive work which makes it possible to identify where a sound is coming from when there are competing sounds. This is affected by the speed at which the cochlear implant and hearing aid processors work.

The work on cochlear implants is coupled with research on improving hearing aid performance. In one experiment, machine learning was used on approximately 80,000 datasets to ensure hearing aids were optimised to have a better starting position prior to being customized by an audiologist for customers.

The group have also made their code and interface open source and user friendly, so that more cochlear implant and hearing aid researchers can benefit and be involved in the research. Find out more about the CCi-MOBILE research platform at: