Cochlear Implant (CI) users typically perform poorly on musical tasks, especially those based on pitch ranking and melody recognition. It was hypothesized that CI users would demonstrate deterioration in performance for a pitch ranking and a melody recognition task presented with iterated rippled noise (IRN) in comparison to pure tones (PT). In Addition, it was hypothesized that normal hearing (NH) listeners would show fewer differences in performance between IRN and PT for these two tasks.
In this study, the ability of CI users and NH subjects to rank pitches and to identify melodies created with IRN and PT was assessed in free field in a sound-isolated room. CI subjects scored significantly above chance level with PT stimuli in both tasks. With IRN stimuli their performance was around chance level. NH subjects scored significantly above chance level in both tasks and with all stimuli. NH subjects performed significantly better than CI subjects in both tasks. These results illustrate the difficulties of CI subjects to rank pitches and to identify melodies.