Unlike conventional hearing aids, worn in the ear, cochlear implants are made up of two components, one is a device implanted surgically. The implant bypasses the normal acoustic hearing pathway, replacing it with electrical signals. These are fed directly to the cochlear, stimulating the auditory nerve. The brain perceives these signals as sound.
The second component is the external component, known as the processor, of a cochlear implant system include a sound processor and headpiece, which is easily removed. To remain discreet, the colour of the processor can match an individual’s hair. The internal parts of the system – inserted during surgery and not visible – are called the implant and the electrode array.
The external components capture speech, music and environmental sounds. They are processed then transmitted to the implant. Individual electrodes pass these signals to the brain, as outlined above.