Despite their remarkable success in bringing spoken language to hearing impaired listeners, the signal transmitted through cochlear implants (CIs) remains impoverished in spectro-temporal fine structure. As a consequence, pitch-dominant information such as voice emotion, is diminished. For young children, the ability to correctly identify the mood/intent of the speaker (which may not always be visible in their facial expression) is an important aspect of social and linguistic development. Previous work in the field has shown that children with cochlear implants (cCI) have significant deficits in voice emotion recognition relative to their normally hearing peers (cNH). Here, we report on voice emotion recognition by a cohort of 36 school-aged cCI. Additionally, we provide for the first time, a comparison of their performance to that of cNH and NH adults (aNH) listening to CI simulations of the same stimuli. We also provide comparisons to the performance of adult listeners with CIs (aCI), most of whom learned language primarily through normal acoustic hearing. Results indicate that, despite strong variability, on average, cCI perform similarly to their adult counterparts; that both groups' mean performance is similar to aNHs' performance with 8-channel noise-vocoded speech; that cNH achieve excellent scores in voice emotion recognition with full-spectrum speech, but on average, show significantly poorer scores than aNH with 8-channel noise-vocoded speech. A strong developmental effect was observed in the cNH with noise-vocoded speech in this task. These results point to the considerable benefit obtained by cochlear-implanted children from their devices, but also underscore the need for further research and development in this important and neglected area.This article is part of a Special Issue entitled <Lasker Award>.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems