Does a music intervention improve hearing in cochlear implant users more than an active control intervention?

serious gaming cochlear implant users hearing rehabilitation

R.H. Free
dr. E. Harding
B. Maat
prof. D. Ba┼čkent

Nature of the research:
randomized controlled trial; administering behavioral intervention; data collection; statistics

Fields of study:
ENT medicine

Background / introduction
In cochlear implant (CI) users, an electrode array implanted to the cochlea of a deaf ear transduces sound to the auditory nerve. While the implant can restore partial hearing, years of auditory deprivation can result in poorer central auditory processing of sound heard from the implant. Previous research with normal-hearing participants indicates that the neuroplasticity involved in improvisation-based musical training may facilitate the central auditory processing of sounds by engaging an audiomotor network. These previous findings motivate research with CI users, as their intact motor networks can theoretically bootstrap healthier auditory processing during audiomotor integration.
Research question / problem definition
However, such audiomotor integration and any resulting improvement to central auditory processing may not be linked per se to the domain of music. For example, video games couple motor skill learning with the auditory sound effects elicited during the game. Therefore, we contrast a music intervention with an active control intervention — Minecraft serious gaming — in an upcoming randomized controlled trial with CI users.
KNO UMCG is seeking medical students with good Dutch language skills to be the instructors that teach Minecraft to CI users in the active control intervention (no previous knowledge of Minecraft is necessary). Moreover, the students will collect data at multiple timepoints to monitor whether the (control) intervention improves scores on a battery of listening tests.
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