It’s fascinating to think about how unique our perception of the world is. We like to think that everyone experiences the world in the same way we do but we all have subtle differences that influences the way we perceive the world. I for instance have partial red-green colorblindness which affects my ability to distinguish between darker shades of certain colours. The difference for me is subtle but for others who suffer from more pronounced colorblindness the different can be extremely drastic, completely changing how they view the world.
Similarly for those who are deaf or hearing impaired the world would seem like a very different place to them, bereft of all the noises and sounds we think are commonplace. For some there are treatment options available, like cochlear implants, and for the longest time I thought that the sounds that users of those devices were the same as the ones you and I can hear. As it turns out their auditory world could not be more different and the simulation below shows just how different it is:
I had read a little while ago that music sounded completely alien to those who had received cochlear implants but actually hearing what it might sound like was actually quite shocking. The improvements that came through with the extra channels were impressive but I had a hard time recognizing the elements of the music, even after I heard the original clip. I understand that the main function of cochlear implants isn’t music (they are primarily aimed at speech) but the differences were so stark that it was, to be honest, quite shocking.
Thankfully it does seem like there are vast improvements being made in this area, to the point where users claim that music is enjoyable for them. Hopefully with time we’ll be able to improve even further so one day the auditory world of those with cochlear implants won’t be much different from ours.