According to an investigator from Georgetown University Medical Centre, exposure to the beat in music such as drums can improve the emotional and social quality-of-life of cochlear implant users.

"The cochlear implant is designed for language perception but not for music perception. By using music that emphasises a beat, we may be able to improve both," said Jessica Phillips-Silver, postdoctoral researcher at the laboratory of integrative neuroscience and cognition.

In this study, investigators sought to objectively measure if users can synchronise body movement in time to music with a regular beat, comparing their performance to that of hearing individuals.

They tested nine users of cochlear implants and nine hearing participants, asking them to react to three different renditions of a popular style of Latin dance music that has a heavy beat. The researchers found that both groups were able to move in time to the beat when drum music was used, although synchronisation was greater in hearing participants.

"The advantage of drum music to implant users is likely reduction of the complexity of the music as well as absence of pitch variation, which cannot be processed by the implants," Phillips-Silver noted.

The study suggests that cochlear implant users can enjoy a myriad of musical benefits if the composition significantly emphasises the beat."A strong beat activates the joy of body movement. What we hear is what we feel and what we feel is what we hear," Phillips-Silver said.

The study appeared online in the journal Hearing Research.


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