cochlear implantation

Acoustic phonetic characteristics of the speech of young children with a cochlear implantation

Project information

The aim of this project is to investigate acoustic-phonetic characteristics of the speech of young congenitally deaf children who received a cochlear implant in their first year of life. In particular the acoustic characteristics of their babbling will be investigated in order to detect discrepancies with the babbling of hearing infants. In addition we will analyze spontaneous speech of these children at the age of six, and investigate whether it displays the typical characteristics of "deaf speech", and we will try to relate these characteristics to the infants" vocalizations in their first year of life.

01/11/2005 - 30/10/2009

BOF University of Antwerp

Language acquisition by children with cochlear implants

Project information

In this project we study the auditory development, the speech and language acquisition in congenital deaf children with a cochlear implant (CI) implanted during their second year of life. Our aim is to systematically investigate the effect of the CI on different aspects of language and speech development:

  • The effect of a CI on the auditory level;
  • The effect of a CI on the articulatory level (the speech);
  • The effect of a CI on language acquisition and communicative development.

In essence, we want to investigate how access to the auditory information evolves and what impact that access to spoken language has on the child's own spontaneous speech and language.

The scientific aims of the research proposal are (i) descriptive and (ii) fundamental.

(i) Descriptive: a longitudinal description of the auditory development and speech-, language- and comminicative development after a CI. On the basis of this description we will be able to provide an answer to the following questions: Does language acquisition after a CI proceed in a qualitatively and/or quantitatively similar fashion as that in normal hearing babies? What is the level of spoken language development in CI-babies, as compared to normal hearing babies? Is there a qualitatively and/or quantitatively difference in the auditory development, speech- and language development between babies, depending on the age at which they receive a CI?

(ii) Fundamental psycholinguistic aims:

  • Study of the perception of segmental and supra-segmental characteristics of speech in relation to its production;
  • Study of the phonological development on the segmental and suprasegmental level, focusing on the evolution of truncation patterns.
  • Study of the lexical and morphosyntactic acquisition, focusing on the evolution of 'function words' or closed class words with respect to open class words, an opposition related to perceptual salience.
  • Study of communicative development, focusing on (1) the use and place of speech versus (conventional) signs, (2) the use of interactional means (attention seeking/fixing/...), (3) the magnitude and use of types of interaction turns by child and adult conversation partner.


01/10/2000 - 31/12/2006

FWO (2000-2004), Spruyt Legacy, University of Antwerp (2003-2004), KANTL: Koninklijke Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde

Identifiability and intelligibility of the speech of hearing impaired children using a cochlear implant

Project information

Until recently children who were born "deaf" remained "deaf", and thus were unable to acquire spoken language. Fortunately nowadays deaf children with a cochlear deficit can be helped with a surgical intervention: they receive a cochlear implant (CI) very early in life so that they can "hear", i.e., can experience sound sensations.

The first concern that the parents of these children phrase, is: "will my child hear with an implant?" The answer is definitely positive. The second question usually is: "will my child speak and sound like a normal hearing (NH) child of the same age?" This question remains unanswered. We want to address this issue from two perspectives: the identifiability and intelligibility of CI children.

Recent findings indicate that the speech of 6- to 7-year-old CI users deviates from that of NH peers in particular fine details. But are those details that we can measure also detectable by the human ear? Are they sufficient to reliably identify CI children's speech? This will be investigated by having people listen to recordings of speech of CI children, children with an acoustic hearing aid (HA), and NH children.

A second main research question concerns the intelligibility of CI children's speech. When the children enter mainstream primary school, it is quintessential to know if they are intelligible for people not familiar with them. In this project we will assess their intelligibility using different methodologies.

01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

FWO - Research Foundation Flanders

PhD defense Orly Herzberg (Tel Aviv University) on November 25

Orly Herzberg (Tel Aviv University) defended her PhD on November 25, 2010.

Her doctoral project "Early morphosyntactic and lexical development in young hearing impaired Hebrew-speaking children with cochlear implants compared to normally hearing peers"was supervised by Dorit Ravid (Tel Aviv Univesity) and Steven Gillis (UA).


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