The world of sounds should not be closed to deaf people. So-called cochlear implants compensate for the lack of sensory cells in the inner ear and can restore hearing to many of those afflicted with deafness. Yet the procedure still has its failings. Prof. Robert Illing from the neurobiologial research laboratory at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Freiburg explores the plastic properties of the nervous system that facilitate the application of these implants at the same time as having limitations. His findings help to boost the use of the brain’s ability to learn and to optimise successful therapy.