Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Deaf children learn words faster than hearing children

24.01.2018

Each year up to two thousand hearing impaired children are born in Germany. For some of them a cochlear implant can offer relief. So far, it was not clear which processes take place in these children when they start to learn language later than their contemporaries with normal hearing—and why they differ in their success to reach a normal level of language. The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and University Medical Centre Dresden found that deaf children with a cochlear implant learn words even faster than those with normal hearing. This finding can help refine the search for the reasons behind their varying success in language acquisition.

For many years scientists tinkered to find a perfect replacement for the damaged or dysplastic inner ear. Cochlear implants receive a sound, convert it into electrical stimuli and send these impulses directly to the auditory nerve, thereby giving hearing impaired children the chance to connect to the world of sounds and noises.


The scientist analysed the brain activities of the little ones using electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate when the children with cochlear implant registered the incorrect words.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

It has so far been assumed that these children reach the language level of children with normal hearing much later. Previous studies showed that from the moment of having the device implanted, children need longer to attain the important steps of learning their mother tongue—for instance, being able to distinguish the rhythm of their mother tongue from that of another language. This could imply that developmental milestones necessary to start school are also delayed, although they reach all the other developmental stages needed.

A current study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the University Medical Centre Dresden has now revealed something different: “We observed that when deaf children get their implants, they learn words faster than those with normal hearing. Consequently, they build up certain word pools faster”, says Niki Vavatzanidis, first author of the underlying study and scientist at MPI CBS and the University Medical Centre Dresden. Normally, children need fourteen months to reliably recognise that known objects are named incorrectly. Children with an artificial cochlea were already able to do so after twelve months.

The reason for this finding could be that children with cochlear implants are older when they are first exposed to spoken language. Those with normal hearing learn aspects of language, such as the rhythm and melody of their mother tongue, from birth and even in the womb. In deaf children, this only starts at the time of their cochlear replacement, at the age of around one to four years. By this time certain brain structures necessary for language acquisition are already well developed.

“It is not just the memory, but also the broader knowledge about their surroundings that is more formed. They already know about objects in their environment and have accumulated non-linguistic semantic categories” states Vavatzanidis. For example, they already know that objects such as cups or meals could be hot and that heat could be something harmful without knowing the word “hot”.

The neuroscientists examined these relations with the help of thirty-two children with cochlear implant in both ears. They carried out a test after twelve, eighteen and twenty-four months after implantation that tested their ability to recognise words: The young study participants were shown pictures of objects which were named either correctly or incorrectly. In parallel to this, the scientist analysed the brain activities of the little ones using electroencephalography (EEG). If the researchers detected an effect in the EEG known as N400, they knew that the child registered the incorrect word. This means they had established a stable connection between objects and their names. They had learnt the word.

“Children with cochlear implants could help us understand the general processes of language acquisition and determine which single steps are age-dependent” Angela D. Friederici explains, study leader and head of MPI CBS. “We now know that age does not affect how fast children learn words. On the contrary, they seem to catch up even if they were previously disadvantaged.” Upcoming studies should now focus on why some of the affected children, despite these findings, struggle to reach the level of their contemporaries with normal hearing.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.cbs.mpg.de/Deaf-children-learn-words-faster-than-hearing-children The press release on MPI CBS website

Verena Müller | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>