As I've mentioned before, I LOVE the pitch perception test (Link found in the right column). It is challenging enough to be wildly interesting, delivers feedback immediately so I can integrate learning into it, and I feel it helps me notice my improvement (or lack thereof) in sound perception.
So... here goes. I find it helps to play it more than once since your results do improve with practice and it takes a bit to get into the "groove." Speaking of groove- let's get grooving with my results!
Hearing aid only (right ear has a profound hearing loss but can hear sounds well above 30db with the hearing aid):
Just for technicality's sake, I wear an Oticon hearing aid (not the best at all) on volume 4, which is the max. I used to hear things with volume 3 but now prefer 4. Whether this is due to my hearing declining or the hearing aid's quality, I'm not sure. There are extremely good high-tech hearing aids out there and then there's the basic ones. Laptop volume is at 51, which is fairly loud but not extremely loud.
It begins at a 96 hz difference. I got down to 24 hz fairly easily, with a few errors which I immediately try to file away in my memory. I get down to 3hz.
This is when I realize: Have I ever gotten down to 3hz? And also: "Has having the implant in already helped me THAT much with pitch perception, even when I don't have it in?"
I am at 1.5 hz now. The sounds don't seem that hard to discern and it seems odd that I would usually be unable to go below 6hz. My personal best was probably 4 or 3hz, on very few occasions. I would usually end at a 24-12hz or begin failing at 6hz pre-op and with only a hearing aid. I hadn't been practicing at this test since before my surgery which was a month ago!
I'm surprised. This is with the hearing aid alone, POST-implant. I would love to consult some surgeons or neurotechnicians to explain why this is happening. Heck, make me into your guinea pig if you wish! It's still not within "normal" scores, though, I believe.
It creeps slowly down, 0.75 hz, 0.375 hz, and with that the test is over. I've moved from a "possible pitch perception deficit" to being in the "low-normal" range. WHAT? I now can qualify as "normal" (albeit a "low" normal), despite my hearing loss?
I think of the Seattle Children's Science Museum and this incredibly fun room filled with body-measuring apparatus and activities, such as "How far can you reach?" and "How long can you hold your breath?" One of them is a TALL "sound measurement" scale. It looks like the "How hard can you hit?" tower with the light bulbs at some county fairs and amusement parks. Except it makes a beeping noise (That I've never heard, I just know it does because it says that on the directions). I was never able to play with it because I could never differentiate the pitches very well AT ALL. Well. I want to go back, see if that thing is there, and play it and see the lights beam up!
I am sitting here, blogging LIVE as I'm taking this test. I'll admit something: I was desperately, secretly afraid that my pitch perception would take a weird dive for the worse for some bizarre reason even though the opposite should occur with my brain's newfound pitch ability. At least with my hearing aid, it hasn't. In fact, with the 4th taking of this test (After hundreds in the past) I have, for the first time, moved from Level 5 (Possible Pitch Perception Deficit) to Level 2.5 (Somewhere between Normal and Very Good). Woah!
Now... to try it with the implant alone. The sound adjustment sample sounds high and wailing, penetrating right into my head (and indeed it is!). Nevertheless, I hear it, which is all I need for right now. The volume on the laptop has increased from 51 to 64. The sounds no longer sound rich and tolerable- they are screamingly high, whiny as a toddler without a nap. My head begins to hurt before I am even through with the first pair. I push on, however. I notice that the "lower" pitches are almost imperceptible but noticeable since they "FEEL" lower and SOUND quieter in my head even though the volume remains the same for both pitches.
No score is given because my pitch perception was too wide for them to measure. That is to say, I fail. My head is throbbing and I wonder if the volume on my processor is too high. I pull the magnet-processor off my head where it falls limp against my palm, flashing its lonely red light. The volume is all the way up. I sigh, haunted by the thought that the louder it needs to be, the worse my ears are. But, of course, this isn't a hearing aid and if it's all the way up it just means my comfort level for sound has increased much more since Mapping #2, which is good. I wonder if it signifies, "My brain is ready for MORE!!!"
I decide to go take a break for a few minutes before I return.