The cosmic rule: those who write get written about

My latest Technology Review article, Helping the Deaf Hear Music, came out today. This piece is about a new test, the Clinical Assessment of Music Perception (CAMP), that’s been developed by Jay Rubinstein and his colleagues at the University of Washington and the University of Iowa. It measures how well cochlear implant users hear the basic components of music: pitch, timbre, and melody. As it happens, I was one of the subjects in early trials of CAMP, and I talk about my experience in the piece. The highlight, though, is the extraordinary score posted by John Redden, a deaf musician: 100%. How John did it is still something of a mystery and, I hope, a portent of the future.

And maybe there’s some cosmic rule that when you write, you get written about. In today’s New York Times there’s an article titled Cochlear Implant Supports an Author’s Active Life. No, it’s not about me. It’s about Josh Swiller, author of The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa. But Josh was nice enough to mention that he read my book while making the decision to get the implant. Thanks, Josh, and congratulations on the publicity.


  1. Mike – – I look forward to reading the new article, keep up the good work – – Leo

  2. Just read the NYT article this morning! Thought it was great!

  3. Laurie Katz says

    Thanks for the great article! The timing is perfect for me – I am getting the rival brand Nucleus Freedom’s music software on March 21, and will be sending this article to my aural rehab specialist, since we are focusing on music now that I have two implants.

    Thanks to your other posts and articles, I tried using headphones for music and they have made a tremendous difference for me. If I stick with music I know, it’s a beautiful experience to hear in stereo again.

    Your writing has been such a great help all along – I read Rebuilt a month before I was evaluated for my first CI. Keep writing, and I will keep reading!

  4. John Redden says


    Great article and I appreciate you mentioning me in it. You are making the world aware of what is possible with technology. Since receiving my implant and the wonderful journey that resulted from it, it has always been my duty to give back in response to what has been given to me by the dedicated folks at Advanced Bionics so thanks again for spreading the word!

    John Redden

  5. Very interesting article and concept. I agree with a CI’s ability to enhance an musical experience. I have noticed the difference between HiRes and Fidelity 120. And I have also noticed a difference when the size of the CI’s window is increased (known as IDR) to allow more “sound” in.
    Keep up the great work, Mike and hope to meet you someday!

  6. Hi Mike,
    I got my CI this week.. a question that come to my mind.. I remember in your first book that you said that in a meeting with Advanced Bionics team they ask you what you were looking for in a CI… have you ever discuss with them about making a wireless device instead of this cap and wire ???


  7. Ronald: the CI headpiece is wireless! But I think you mean a more distant wireless connection, right? IOW no wire and headpiece, just communicating from processor to implant over the several inch gap between. I don’t think that’s going to happen until the implant contains its own internal power source. Since the headpiece provides power, and there is 2-way signaling between implant and processor, the close proximity is necessary with the existing design.

  8. Kate Blue says

    Hi there!
    Just was taking time to catch up with your blog…and to say that I am actually reading the book mentioned and it’s not so bad; it’s actually very interesting. Makes me wonder what my son will say and do once he’s older and can make the decision to “turn off.”

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Hi Mike,
    I’ve just come to your blog from the economist article but have read articles by you before. I’ve been thinking a lot about technology lately because I am on a forum about the Envoy Esteem implantable hearing aids. Unfortunately, my loss is too profound, and everyone just keeps asking me if I can get a CI. It’s frustrating to me because I’m a musician and I enjoy music very much with my hearing aids. I understand only 20% of single syllable words, but I understand over 80% of sentences (without visual cues). I am not ready to try a CI yet. But people keep asking me and suggesting it, so I figure I should stay up to date on the research. I think I am right in waiting.

    Show me a fully implantable device that doesn’t destroy my residual hearing and I’d probably go for it. I really like how Envoy is using the “natural microphone” of the ear drum instead of an electronic microphone. They are talking about combining it with a CI in the future too.

  10. Hi Mike! I’m a music teacher for grades k-6 and this year I have two new students with cochlear implants. I’ve been looking for information regarding pitch recognition and how to teach to kids with a hearing impairment. Funny, the more I look into it, the more “impaired” I feel in comparison. Can you give me some sort of guidance on how to teach kids who use a cochlear…without expensive software? Thanks!

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