Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Younger is better when implanting cochlear implants

12.05.2005


Deaf children who receive cochlear implants do better learning language and speech the younger they receive the implants, according to research by scientists at Indiana University School of Medicine.



However, it’s not clear whether implanting children before they turn age one is worth the potential risks associated with such early surgeries, the researchers said. The work will be presented next week at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

The study, by Mario Svirsky, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and Rachael Holt, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, also supports the theory that there is a "sensitive period" for optimal language development during the early years of life. In the study, the speed at which language was learned was greater for children who received cochlear implants earlier. The implants provide congenitally deaf children with a sense of hearing, but the children must learn how to interpret the sounds the implants provide. The researchers studied 96 children who received the implants in their first, second, third and fourth years of life, evaluating their progress with language skills and speech perception every six months. Those who received the implants earlier consistently performed better on tests of language skills -- learning vocabulary, grammar, and other such language rules -- and speech perception -- their ability to understand spoken words -- than did those who received the implants later. "Not only is earlier better, but we found that language gains tended to be faster for children who received cochlear implants earlier in life," said Dr. Svirsky.


However, children implanted before they turned one year old did not appear to do any better than those implanted during their second year. Infants as young as six months old have started receiving the implants, but there are potential risks associated with such early treatment, including the use of anesthesia and the difficulties in accurately diagnosing profound deafness. The findings regarding the youngest patients may be due to sample size, Dr. Svirsky said, because only just six of the patients were in the six-to-12-month age group.

The children’s language development skills were tested with the widely used Reynell Developmental Language Scales. Speech perception was tested using the Mr. Potato Head Task, a technique developed by IU School of Medicine researchers in which an instructor covers his face with an opaque screen and asks the child to do various tasks with the toy.

The Svirsky and Holt study may help doctors and families decide when to proceed with a child’s cochlear implant. It may also help answer a question that would otherwise require what Dr. Svirsky calls a "forbidden experiment" -- whether there’s an age after which children have significantly more difficulty learning language and speech perception skills.

The experiment -- forbidden because it would be unethical -- would involve depriving children of all contact with language for different periods of time, then testing how well they were able to learn such skills afterward.

The study by Drs. Svirsky and Holt provides evidence that there’s a sensitive period for language development that starts at about age two.

"It’s not an exact model of development in children born with normal hearing. We restore imperfect hearing," said Dr. Svirsky. "This is an indirect way of exploring the issue of sensitive periods."

Although the younger children gained language development faster, Drs. Svirsky and Holt did not find a similar effect for speech perception skills. Gains in speech perception were more or less uniform for children implanted at any age before four. That suggests that if there is a sensitive period for speech perception, it may start later than age four, Dr. Svirsky said.

Drs. Svirsky and Holt will be presenting their findings Monday, May 16, 2005, at a joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Canadian Acoustical Association in Vancouver, Canada. Their research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Eric Schoch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iupui.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht When a fish becomes fluid
17.12.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When a fish becomes fluid

17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Progress in Super-Resolution Microscopy

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

How electric heating could save CO2 emissions

17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>