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Cringe-worthy TV Reference!

13 June 2015

So, this is why it is important that our media presents accurate information.

For those of you who don't know, I'm studying speech-language pathology, but I work in a psychoacoustics lab which studies the hearing mechanism and our perceptions to improve cochlear implant technology. These are wonderful devices that have come a long way since their inception. According the an episode of CSI, though, they cause horrible tinnitus that makes people go crazy and are still highly experimental. No. No. No. I don't know where they got their information, and they should've asked an audiologist for assistance. (The hit TV show ER even had an audiologist they consulted!)
What happened in this episode that made me cringe?

- The murderer would start to break down whenever tinnitus presented itself. Tinnitus can be painful and annoying, so I'm not denying that. What was bad was that we find out that he had cochlear implants implanted when he was younger and we wouldn't have known if they hadn't told us. Why? Because he didn't even have the external part on!!

-Why is the external part important? It's what allows the person to actually HEAR. So the murderer cringing and going crazy due to loud noises coming from the cochlear implant is invalid-- he's essentially deaf without the external part (unless he has some residual hearing in one/both ears). Now that doesn't mean he doesn't have tinnitus, but it's certainly not due to the technology since he wasn't wearing the external part.

-Along the same lines, they implied that the cochlear implant causes input to become very loud randomly. Cochlear implants can be like hearing aids in that once a noise is to level it can almost be too loud, but there are also other parts in it that compress the input to make it audible and comfortable... and they now also have volume control buttons! Plus, why would people use the technology if it makes noises and speech too loud all the time? People use them everyday and aren't constantly affected by the implant itself making things too loud.

Yes, it was experimental in the early days, but now they are widely used. CSI made it sound like they are still experimental and that not many people get them due to lots of complications... Wrong, many children and even adults get them and now most issues revolve around making them discern speech sources and music better.

So, people that work in the media industry, please fact check.