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How cochlear implants work

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device developed for people with severe to profound perceptive hearing loss. It works by transforming sounds into electrical stimulation for the auditory nerve. This means it can bypass the cochlea and become a substitute for a non-functioning cochlea.

How does it work?

Conventional hearing aids capture sound, amplify it and send it through the normal auditory channel. However, if your ear damage is too severe, amplifying sound in this way will have no effect. The cochlear implant overcomes this by sending the signal directly to the auditory nerve. This means that unlike conventional hearing aids, cochlear implants bypass the damaged areas of the ear. They capture the sound, process it and electronically stimulate the auditory nerve.

See how a cochlear implant works:

About the cochlear implant

A cochlear implant consists of an external part called a sound processor and an internal part called a cochlear implant.

The external part is a behind-the-ear sound processor and a lead that connects the processor to the antenna. The antenna is magnetically attached to the skin directly over the internal part.

The internal part is a receiver that is surgically slid underneath the skin on the temporal bone. The receiver has an electrode array that is placed in the cochlea.



  1. The sound processor captures and digitizes sound.
  2. The antenna is magnetically attached to the skin and transmits the digitized sound from the sound processor to the implant receiver.
  3. The magnetic implant receiver is fitted under the skin directly under the antenna. It transforms the digital information into an electronic signal sent to the cochlea.
  4. The electrode array is inserted in the cochlea. Each electrode on the array corresponds to a signal frequency.
  5. When the encoded signal is transmitted to the corresponding electrode, the auditory nerve is stimulated.
  6. The brain receives the sound transmitted via the auditory nerve.

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Neuro Zti implant

Learn about Oticon Medical's first cochlear implant system that uses innovative and proven technologies.