Tonotopia: Listening through Cochlear Implants

Ever wondered what it’s like to hear through a cochlear implant? 

Well, you can!

Tonotopia - listening through cochlear implants

Tonotopia is an exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London that helps people to understand the digital sounds perceived by those who are profoundly deaf with cochlear implants. Tom Tlalim invited six cochlear implant users (one of them is yours truly!) to the V&A to participate in interviews which revealed huge diversities in experiences before and after implant surgery and what’s more, the key moment when the Cochlear implant devices were switched on.

Check out the video below about the exhibition:

I completely loved discussing with Tom about my cochlear implant experiences but also I was fascinated about his questions about how I can perceive sound, especially through music and nature. Check out my story below when I could hear a grasshopper for the very first time…

In fact the interviews I attended were each almost an hour long so it would be impossible for me to show the entire story to you on here.

But you can see it all and other interviews by simply visiting the V&A museum in London in their resident exhibition rooms (John Lyons Charity Community Gallery) between Friday October 12th 2018 until Sunday March 10th 2019.

Many thanks to everyone involved in the process including Action on Hearing Loss and V&A Museum. It’s gonna be one big exhibition to really make you think what the future holds…

What is a cochlear implant? 

This has been taken from Tonotopia’s website:

Cochlear implants are the first available commercial sensory prostheses. These enable people with profound hearing loss to perceive sound. The implants comprise of a long electrode that is inserted into the cochlea through a hole in the skull, a signal receiver that is placed under the scalp, and a digital processor that analyses sound algorithmically and converts them into electrical charge. During an invasive surgical process the biological sensory infrastructure is often lost and replaced by the electrode which emits electrical pulses onto the exposed nerve ends. As these implants are designed for speech, music and complex sounds become harsh and dissonant. As Cochlear Implants are more widely available they are predicted to be connected to mobile web, location-aware and to benefit from cloud computing and AI. Services such as instantaneous inner ear translation are therefore not far away, as our senses become mediated by digital processes.


Find out more about Cochlear Implants and travelling:


if you want to find out more about my experiences with Cochlear Implants and travelling, check out the below posts:

Read more: My cochlear implant journey

Read more: Travelling solo with a cochlear implant around the world 


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