Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Tonya Bergeson-Dana


Music is an integral aspect of culture that is uniquely tied to our emotions. Previous studies have shown that hearing loss and cochlear implantation have deleterious effects on music and emotion perception, particularly cues related to pitch, melody, and mode. The purpose of this study is to examine acoustic cues that adults with cochlear implants and adults with normal hearing might use to perceive emotion in music (e.g., tempo and pitch range). One adult (ages 18-50 years) with a cochlear implant and 15 adults who have normal hearing were tested. The participants listened to a series of 40 melodies which varied along tempo and pitch range. Ten melodies conveyed sadness (small pitch range; slow tempo) and 10 conveyed happiness (large pitch range; fast tempo). The remaining 20 presented conflicting cues (small pitch range + fast tempo or large pitch range + slow tempo). We asked participants to rate the emotion of the musical excerpt on a 7-point Likert scale along three dimensions: happy-sad, pleasant-unpleasant, and engaged-unengaged. Results showed that adults with NH and CIs relied on tempo more than pitch range when perceiving emotion in music, but in two instances adults with NH took pitch range into account when rating. The results from this study will help shed light on how effectively cochlear implants convey musical emotions, and could eventually lead to improvements in music perception in listeners with hearing loss.