UCL Ear Institute


Making cochlear implants work better

This PhD project is funded by Action on Hearing Loss who have formed a partnership with Advanced Bionics, to jointly fund a studentship in the area of cochlear implant research.

Terry Nunn, Head of Audiology at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is conducting the research which will be supervised by Dr Debi Vickers. He will investigate whether personalised cochlear implant settings can help users to understand speech better in 'real life' listening conditions.

Today’s cochlear implant users have many of the settings available within their speech processor programmed to default values (the ‘one size fits all’ approach), which are taken from average results obtained for large groups of patients. With the improvements made recently in this technology, cochlear implant users can correctly hear ~90% of sentences in relatively quiet environments. However, in more challenging listening conditions, such as listening to a quiet speaker, or where there is a lot of different types of noise in the background, cochlear implant users struggle much more. As more and more people are using cochlear implants, it is important that fitting procedures are matched to the user’s own needs. New ways of programming implants can be quickly implemented by manufacturers and clinicians, so people should benefit quickly from the outcomes of this project.

The researcher