Pediatric hearing loss (PHL) is a risk factor for poor spoken language development and educational outcomes. Positive language outcomes may depend in large part on the linguistic environment. Because infants with PHL are at risk for poor language outcomes, the quality of the input may be even more important for them than it is for infants with normal hearing (NH). However, there is currently very little known about the nature of the linguistic input to infants with hearing loss and how it affects their language development. The overall objective of this research project is to determine how real-world language input affects language development in infants with hearing loss and to determine the underlying factors of infant-directed speech (IDS) that might facilitate language development in these infants.
In Aim 1, we will measure and compare the acoustic and linguistic- pragmatic properties of real-world speech directed to infants with PHL and NH peers using the LENA recording device.
In Aim 2, we will investigate relationships between properties of real-world IDS and outcome measures and determine the role of infants' processing efficiency on mediating those relationships.
In Aim 3, we will determine the effects of IDS on novel word learning in infants with PHL compared to NH peers. The Babytalk Research Laboratory at Indiana University School of Medicine employs an established intermodal preferential looking paradigm for studying novel word learning in both NH infants and infants with PHL. In this procedure, infants are seated in a sound booth and are presented with auditory and visual signals on a TV monitor. Infants' looking times to the target and nontarget visual objects in response to the novel words - spoken in either infant-directed or adult-directed speech registers - will be measured as an index of their word learning ability. Finally, in Aim 4, we will determine which acoustic characteristics of IDS facilitate novel word learning in NH infants under conditions of natural and spectrally degraded speech. Using the same novel-word-learning paradigm as in Aim 3, this specific aim will be the first to investigate the facilitative effects of specific acoustic propertes of IDS on novel word learning in NH infants and will provide valuable information regarding how spectrally degraded speech may affect the facilitative affects of IDS. The findings from this research project will have important theoretical implications because they will shed light on how PHL and spectrally degraded input interacts with the direct and indirect relationships between IDS and language development. The findings will also provide valuable information to clinicians and parents of infants with hearing loss for providing an optimal linguistic environment that will best promote language development.

Public Health Relevance

Many deaf and hard-of-hearing children do not achieve language and educational success even when they receive cochlear implants or hearing aids at very early ages and have no other cognitive disabilities. Successful language development for hearing-impaired infants may depend heavily on the quantity and quality of language they are exposed to in their home environment. There is almost nothing known about what the optimal language environment is for hearing-impaired infants; this project addresses that gap in our knowledge by investigating how the quantity and quality of speech and language in their homes helps normal-hearing and hearing-impaired infants learn new words and develop language.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
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Cooper, Judith
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Ohio State University
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Wang, Yuanyuan; Bergeson, Tonya R; Houston, Derek M (2018) Preference for Infant-Directed Speech in Infants With Hearing Aids: Effects of Early Auditory Experience. J Speech Lang Hear Res 61:2431-2439
Wang, Yuanyuan; Shafto, Carissa L; Houston, Derek M (2018) Attention to speech and spoken language development in deaf children with cochlear implants: a 10-year longitudinal study. Dev Sci 21:e12677
Wang, Yuanyuan; Bergeson, Tonya R; Houston, Derek M (2017) Infant-Directed Speech Enhances Attention to Speech in Deaf Infants With Cochlear Implants. J Speech Lang Hear Res 60:3321-3333
Wang, Yuanyuan; Lee, Christopher S; Houston, Derek M (2016) Infant-directed speech reduces English-learning infants' preference for trochaic words. J Acoust Soc Am 140:4101
Kondaurova, Maria V; Bergeson, Tonya R; Xu, Huiping et al. (2015) Affective Properties of Mothers' Speech to Infants With Hearing Impairment and Cochlear Implants. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:590-600
Burnham, Evamarie B; Wieland, Elizabeth A; Kondaurova, Maria V et al. (2015) Phonetic modification of vowel space in storybook speech to infants up to 2 years of age. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:241-53
Wieland, Elizabeth A; Burnham, Evamarie B; Kondaurova, Maria et al. (2015) Vowel space characteristics of speech directed to children with and without hearing loss. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:254-67
Fagan, Mary K; Bergeson, Tonya R; Morris, Kourtney J (2014) Synchrony, complexity and directiveness in mothers' interactions with infants pre- and post-cochlear implantation. Infant Behav Dev 37:249-57
Houston, Derek M; Bergeson, Tonya R (2014) Hearing versus Listening: Attention to Speech and Its Role in Language Acquisition in Deaf Infants with Cochlear Implants. Lingua 139:10-25
Kondaurova, Maria V; Bergeson, Tonya R; Xu, Huipuing (2013) Age-related changes in prosodic features of maternal speech to prelingually deaf infants with cochlear implants. Infancy 18:

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