A cochlear implant works differently than a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that a person with hearing loss can hear more clearly. Cochlear implants generate an electrical signal that the brain interprets as sound. The implant has an external portion that sits behind the ear, consisting of a microphone, a speech processor and a transmitter. These work in tandem with the internal components, a receiver and array of electrodes, which have been implanted in the ear.
The microphone picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, which converts these signals to digital impulses and sends them to the transmitter. The transmitter, in turn, sends the processed audio signals to the receiver. From there, they are transmitted directly to the brain through the auditory nerve.
While a cochlear implant does not cure deafness or restore hearing loss, it does allow a patient to perceive sound, and can help him or her to converse again.