De perceptuele organisatie van taal in het eerste jaar na een cochleair implantaat
02 / 2005 - 01 / 2008
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
A cochlear implant (CI) is an appropriate sensory aid for selected deaf children who receive minimal benefit from conventional amplification. Many children using cochlear implants have acquired speaking and listening skills and have developed a spoken language system which is beyond what previously could be achieved with hearing aids. However, there are large individual differences in language performance among deaf children with cochlear implants and their language skills continue to lag behind those of normal-hearing children. It is important to note that even today, it is not really understood what is the key for success. This project aims to clarify the nature of the delay and variability in spoken language acquisition of children using cochlear implants by testing their early speech perception skills and the relationship with early spoken language. It will test attention to speech and sensitivity to and use of regularities in the input for segmentation of fluent speech. The study is operationalised in a dual comparison: with normal-hearing children (matched on chronological age, hearing age and language age) as well as with hearing-impaired peers who use conventional hearing aids. It is the first study to address perceptual skills that are essential for early word segmentation in this, if any, clinical population. This research proposal is intriguing from both theoretical and clinical perspectives. From a theoretical standpoint, the research provides an unique opportunity to examine speech perception of deaf children who have been deprived of auditory input and then have their hearing restored at a later age via CI. From a clinical perspective, it is essential that new behavioural techniques are used to asses the benefits of implanting deaf children at very young ages.