haptic prosthetic cochlear implant

Researchers Find Enhanced Pitch Discrimination for Cochlear Implant Users with New Haptic Neuroprosthetic Device

In a new study, researchers examined the ability of a novel device to enhance pitch discrimination among cochlear implant users.

The device, the mosaicOne_B, was designed to help provide missing pitch information to the wearer through haptic (tactile) stimulation on the forearm. This enhanced pitch discrimination “has the potential to significantly improve music perception, speech recognition, and speech prosody perception in CI users.”

The study was published on June 25th in Nature Scientific Reports.


Improving Outcomes for Cochlear Implant Users


While cochlear implants have restored hearing function in countless thousands of people across the globe, there are still significant limitations, including impaired pitch perception among users.

Pitch is critical to both speech understanding and music appreciation. In the case speech discrimination, pitch is used to help separate sounds in complex and noisy listening environments.

haptic prosthetic cochlear implant
Schematic representation of the mosaicOne_B haptic stimulation device on the forearm. The two interleaved motor types used are represented by different colors. Courtesy Nature Scientific Reports

In the current study, researchers utilized a novel approach of providing missing pitch information through haptic stimulation on the forearm, using the new mosaicOne_B device. 

In normal-hearing subjects listening to CI simulated audio, the study showed that participants were able to discriminate pitch differences at a similar performance level to that achieved by normal-hearing listeners.

“The mosaicOne_B extracts pitch information in real-time and presents it via 12 motors that are arranged in ascending pitch along the forearm, with each motor representing a different pitch.”

According to the researchers, the mosaicOne_B has several properties that make it suitable for a real-world application:

  1. Stimulation was delivered to the forearm (a suitable site for a real-world use)
  2. The signal processing was performed in real-time, and
  3. The haptic signal was delivered using lightweight, low-powered, compact motors.

The encouraging findings, researchers say, suggest that the mosaicOne_B could offer a non-invasive and inexpensive means to improve speech and music perception among CI users.

The full text of the study can be accessed here.


Original citation:

Fletcher, M.D., Thini, N. & Perry, S.W. Enhanced Pitch Discrimination for Cochlear Implant Users with a New Haptic Neuroprosthetic. Sci Rep 10, 10354 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67140-0


Source: Nature Scientific Reports