Physiological and psychophysical research indicates that improved hearing in noise and music appreciation are likely with cochlear implants, with better reproduction of the fine temporospatial patterns of neural response in the auditory pathways due to phase differences in neuron firing patterns as the result of the basilar membrane travelling wave. An initial speech-processing strategy, to in part reproduce this information, is showing better frequency discrimination and musical perception. However, more exact reproduction is likely with a new generation electrode array which could involve the use of neurotrophins and inherently conducting polymers. The siting and design of this, as well as safety, needs further investigation before it is implemented. Copyright © 2004 Whurr Publishers Ltd.