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  D. The Pros & Cons of Cochlear Implants

Narrator: This is Science Today. For many people with profound hearing loss or deafness, cochlear implants have been a tremendous breakthrough, basically introducing these patients to sound. But these electronic, medical devices do not duplicate perfect hearing. Jan Larky coordinates a cochlear implant project at the University of California, San Francisco.

Larky: Some people, when it's first turned on, the first time they hear through this implant will say that it sounds like a cartoon character or it sounds like it's a little squeaky or a little tinny. Some people say your voice sounds very clear but I can't understand what you're saying.

Narrator: While research continues to improve sound quality, Larky says the cochlear implants now in use offer many patients something they never had before…

Larky: This implant provides choice and it provides opportunities. Not everybody has the same degree of performance. Not everybody can understand speech over the phone and a background of noise, but everybody who gets implanted usually derives significant benefit in their own situation.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.