1291 Processing of Spoken Words by 2-Year-Old Children Who Use Cochlear Implants

Sunday, February 21, 2010: 3:50 PM
Room 2 (San Diego Convention Center)
Tina Grieco-Calub , Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Children who are born without hearing, or who acquire deafness shortly after birth, have limited exposure to auditory-oral language. As a result, delays in the development of oral communication can occur unless intervention is provided. One increasingly popular intervention strategy is to provide children with cochlear implants (CIs), which are surgically-implantable devices that give deaf individuals access to auditory information. Although CI technology continues to improve, the signal that is delivered to the individual is spectrally-degraded relative to normal acoustic hearing. Despite this fact, CIs can promote the development of oral language, and better outcomes are typically achieved with earlier implantation.

There has been a recent interest in understanding the ways in which young children who use CIs process spoken language in real time, particularly at an age when their vocabularies are just beginning to emerge. This presentation will focus on a study designed to assess online language processing in young CIs users. Participants included children between 2-3 years of age who use CIs and age-matched children with normal hearing. The objective of the study was to determine how quickly and how accurately children can visually recognize target objects after hearing spoken labels. On average, both groups of children identified target objects significantly above chance; however, there was large individual variability among the young CIs users. In addition, the children who use CIs were overall less accurate and slower in the task than their normal hearing peers. Discussion will include the potential consequences of this delay in spoken word recognition, possible sources of the individual variability in performance, and additional ways in which behavioral techniques can be used to study early language abilities in young children who use CIs.