From Cochlear Implants and Neurotology to Brain Computer Interfaces: Exploring the World of Neuron Synapses for Hearing Impairments

From Cochlear Implants and Neurotology to Brain Computer Interfaces: Exploring the World of Neuron Synapses for Hearing Impairments

Dionysios Politis, Miltiadis Tsaligopoulos, Georgios Kyriafinis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0058-2.ch040
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This chapter focuses on the framework of non-deterministic Brain Computer Interfaces within the context of Human Computer Interaction. A very special subgroup of these interfaces, emerging from the world of hearing loss, comprises the Cochlear Implants that affirmatively expose direct manipulation techniques. Short and long memory experiments with musical exploitation can prove shortcomings in inner-knowledge handling and provide understanding of how the language mechanism provides steady, un-biased speech. A model and a protocol for parameterizing sustainable aural communication skills are presented.
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Although the concept of a wearable device that integrates advanced mobility characteristics is getting more and more endorsement within the wide public, the notion of transplantable devices is rather new even to the techno community (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Sequences of evolving species for wearable and transplanted devices


It would be commonplace to note that in today’s thriving society, there is hardly any form of transaction either in communications terms (i.e. mobile telephoning, SMSing, remote videoconferencing) or social engineering (i.e. participation in social or professional networks, administration, voting, shopping, teaching and learning) that is done without ICT. The new concept that emerges besides e-business, e-commerce, e-banking, e-learning, e-registration, etc., is e-health. Already, by using devices like Google Glasses®, users have readily gained a primordial approach to sensitive instruments of their organism, as is their eyes. When the wearable devices outspread to instruments like cochlear implants (Figure 2b), there is an even further increase in intervention by a factor of 10 (Politis et al., 2014).

Figure 2.

a. Left, Google Glasses ® b. Right, a SONATA™ cochlear implant, magnified


Although the leader in mass technology penetration was desktop computing for more than a generation, neither its metaphor nor its paradigm seemed to pander more than 1 billion broadband installations right now (Rogers et al., 2011). To make things worse, its marketing seems to be shivering and the offered services are less appealing for the everyday user. On the contrary, mobile computing and mobile communications are awe-inspiring the new generation and provide technological substrates for global integration and deliverance (Figure 3. For more see Pesaran et al., 2006).

Figure 3.

Big multimedia data input devices, small in size, for massive interchange


Three concepts need initially to be deciphered in order to approach the issue of mobile device penetration: innovation, service emancipation, and co-creation (Chowdhury, 2012).

  • Innovation does not only tamper advanced gadgets in terms of user manipulation; it also introduces the notion of new tasks via new devices, especially the wearable and transplanted ones (Figures 1 and 2). Prolonged battery life, endurance in hard treatment and affordability seem to be the driving forces for ubiquitous penetration.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Speech Therapy: After audiological assessment, patients undergone cochlear implantation are subjected to extensive training aiming to ameliorate recognition and comprehension ability of words and sentences in the mother tongue language of the patient.

Fitting and Rehabilitation: After cochlear implantation recipients follow up training courses with audiologists and speech therapists, either in face-to-face sessions or via remote fitting techniques. During both fitting sessions, the subjects’ sound processor is connected to the programming interface and treatment is guided with custom sound programming software.

HCI - Human Computer Interaction: The assessment of interaction elements under the prism of usability while communicating with subjects having wearable, implanted or bionic parts aims to advance better user interfaces. Further progressing the functionality of computer devices like Google glasses, Google lenses or cochlear implants becomes more central to the design and development of e-Health devices, adhering functionality that does not exist for the user or dismantling functionality that is not virtually usable.

ICT: Information and Communication Technology. It can also mean Information and Computing Technology. ICT is a term that is used more outside the USA, the pioneer in computer technology, as an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application that can process information. Such devices are: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing, cloud computing and distance learning.

Cochlear Implantation: The use of cochlear implants for hearing rehabilitation of deaf individuals is widespread all over the world with more than 100,000 users in the world today. The cochlear implant is an electronic device that replaces the function of the damaged or absent hair cells in the organ of Corti in the cochlea. An electrode array, which is inserted in the cochlea during a delicate microsurgical procedure, stimulates electrically the remaining auditory nerve fibres with codified sound information. The implant converts the incoming converted sound signal into electric signals that reach the cochlear nerve through an array of electrodes ranging from 12 to 22 depending on the implant model and brand. These electric signals stimulate the nerve in a way that simulates the normal function of the cochlea. Cochlear implants are not hearing aids; they operate when patients face complete hearing loss.

Mobile Communication and Learning: The term engulfs mobile learning, i.e. learning transcended via mobile devices and interfaces, mobile business, mobile government, mobile society networks and applications along with the emergence of mobile communication technologies, services, implementation and implications for education, business, governments and society. The development of Mobile Learning provides a handy platform for education and knowledge transfer, exposing learners to the latest ICT technologies; simultaneously it encourages the study and implementation of mobile applications in teaching and learning. Within this context, Mobile Communication is a key benefactor for e-Health activities in conjunction with Human-Computer Interaction, for instance for cochlear implantation post surgical procedures.

Hearing Aid: Instruments of various sizes associated with auditory rehabilitation. They can be considered a means of problem solving to minimize the difficulties (activity limitation) and disadvantages (participation restriction) experienced by individuals with hearing disabilities.

Speech Audiometry: Speech audiometry is a method that offers a more realistic representation of an individual’s hearing as it involves single-syllable words rather than pure tones. Hearing allows the perception not only of the immediate visible environment but also parts of the environment that are obstructed from view and/or that are a significant distance from the individual. One of the most important and sometimes overlooked aspects of hearing is communication, since most human communication is accomplished through speech and hearing. Hearing does not only convey speech but also conveys more complex messages in the form of music, singing and storytelling. In speech audiometry the patient repeats each word and the score is determined according to the percentage of the words that are correctly identified. In other words, speech audiometry is a method to assess auditory discrimination.

HTML: Acronym for Hypertext Markup Language. It is a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages. HTML5 is the latest working version of this standard.

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