Research Shows 6-Month-Olds' Ability to Understand Speech Improves When They Hear Less Distortion
A new study from a UT Dallas researcher demonstrates the importance of considering developmental differences when creating programs for cochlear implants in infants.
“This is the first study to show that infants process degraded speech that simulates a cochlear implant differently than older children and adults, which begs for new signal processing strategies to optimize the sound delivered to the cochlear implant for these young infants,” Warner-Czyz said.
Cochlear implants, which are surgically placed in the inner ear, provide the ability to hear for some people with severe to profound hearing loss. Because of technological and biological limitations, people with cochlear implants hear differently than those with normal hearing.
Think of a piano, which typically has 88 keys with each representing a note. The technology in a cochlear implant can’t play every key, but instead breaks them into groups, or channels. For example, a cochlear implant with 22 channels would put four notes into each group. If any keys within a group are played, all four notes are activated. Although the general frequency can be heard, the fine detail of the individual notes is lost.
Two of the major components necessary for understanding speech are the rhythm and the frequencies of the sound. Timing remains fairly accurate in cochlear implants, but some frequencies disappear as they are grouped.
More than eight or nine channels do not necessarily improve the hearing of speech in adults. This study is one of the first to examine how this signal degradation affects hearing speech in infants.
Infants pay greater attention to new sounds, so researchers compared how long a group of 6-month-olds focused on a speech sound they were familiarized with —“tea”’ — to a new speech sound, “ta.”
The infants spent more time paying attention to “ta,” demonstrating they could hear the difference between the two. Researchers repeated the experiment with speech sounds that were altered to sound as if they had been processed by a 16- or 32-channel cochlear implant.
The infants responded to the sounds that imitated a 32-channel implant the same as when they heard the normal sounds. But the infants did not show a difference with the sounds that imitated a 16-channel implant.
“These results suggest that 6-month-old infants need less distortion and more frequency information than older children and adults to discriminate speech,” Warner-Czyz said. “Infants are not just little versions of children or adults. They do not have the experience with listening or language to fill in the gaps, so they need more complete speech information to maximize their communication outcomes.”
Clinicians need to consider these developmental differences when working with very young cochlear implant recipients, Warner-Czyz said.
Other authors of the study include Dr. Derek Houston from Indiana University School of Medicine and Dr. Linda Hynan from UT Southwestern Medical Center.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
Ben Porter | Eurek Alert!
Research investigates whether solar events could trigger birth defects on Earth
21.07.2015 | University of Kansas
Accounting for short-lived forcers in carbon budgets
15.07.2015 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.
What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...
Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.
The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
31.07.2015 | Trade Fair News
31.07.2015 | Transportation and Logistics
31.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy