This project focuses on language processing in deaf children with cochlear implants. Although early implantation is successful in providing the sufficient audition for the acquisition of oral language, we still know very little about the detailed language outcomes for these children. The proposed project will examine vocabulary knowledge and processing in understanding and speaking.
The aim i s to provide a first, detailed description of how children with cochlear implants compare to hearing children in the knowledge and processes underlying language production and understanding. We will compare the performance of 7-10 year old children who received cochlear implants before age three to their age-matched and to their vocabulary comprehension-matched normal hearing peers. The project includes experiments that are divided into five major groups, behavioral studies of word recognition, behavioral studies of word production. Within each of these experiment groups, we will examine sound and meaning aspects of vocabulary knowledge and how that information is used to speak or comprehend words. Two methods will be used. The first involves computer-controlled experiments in which children have to make judgments about words they hear in a list or name pictures while hearing a related or unrelated word or a related/unrelated picture. By varying the words and pictures presented and we can make inferences about the underlying knowledge and processes of word production and understanding. The second method is still relatively new, though it has been widely used with adults. By examining children's looking behavior in detail we can infer the unconscious processes that occur in spoken and comprehended language. We will also examine the effects of short-term memory and attention on the children's performance. For some children, we have information about how they performed as toddlers on word learning experiments that we can relate to their performance. The project is health related in that it will lead to novel, computer-based methods for language assessment and habilitation directed towards vocabulary knowledge and processing for these children.

Public Health Relevance

Most information we have concerning language outcomes for deaf children with cochlear implants comes from general language tests. The proposed project will provide detailed information about the knowledge and processes underlying word production and recognition in these children. Such information will enable us to develop more sensitive and detailed assessment approaches along with intervention methods to facilitate vocabulary development in these children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
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New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
New York
United States
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Fortunato-Tavares, Talita; Schwartz, Richard G; Marton, Klara et al. (2018) Prosodic Boundary Effects on Syntactic Disambiguation in Children With Cochlear Implants. J Speech Lang Hear Res 61:1188-1202
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