Cochlear Implants

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

Metallic. That’s the first word that comes to mind when describing cochlear implant speech. Surgically embedded in the inner ear, cochlear implants can restore a certain level of hearing to the deaf by electrically stimulating the auditory nerve, but the method is still far from perfect. The biophysical and processing limitations in this otherwise phenomenal innovation were what drew me towards the Hearing and Speech Lab at the University of California, Irvine, where I spent my past two summers working with researchers as they tried to enhance the understandability of cochlear implant sounds.

The opportunities the lab afforded were interesting and exciting. Through MATLAB, a programming platform, I picked up a new language I could speak with computers. Every program I wrote was a puzzle to be solved, and with every difficult solution came a sense of triumphant pride. Many seemingly straightforward tasks often called for resourceful approaches and extensive debugging, while other, more complex programs required multiple, unique portions of code to be tested and compiled.

As useful as my programs were, however, the real cornerstone of my work lay in the experiments I conducted using MATLAB interfaces. By testing subjects with...

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