Local Researchers Studying How Kids With Cochlear Implants Learn Words Differently

Mar 2, 2017

An Ohio State study examines how children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than kids with normal hearing.

Mike Foley reports.

Researchers say despite improvements in screening and early intervention, many children with hearing loss struggle for years when it comes to learning words, speaking and reading. A study at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center hopes to change that.

Fitted with high-tech sensing and computing technology, the parent and the child interact, sometimes with toys that have unusual names. Lead researcher Derek Houston says head-mounted cameras with eye trackers document the child’s focus, and then his team reviews the footage to find patterns and signs of word recognition.

“What they’re hearing and what they’re touching and what the parent is touching all at the same time, that allows us to look at many different aspects of interaction to see not just how their interactions differ than interactions of parents with normal-hearing children but how these different interactions lead differently to successful word learning.”

The study has two specific goals – investigate learning and communication among children before and after cochlear implantation – and evaluate whether children with the implants benefit from word-learning cues as kids with typical hearing development do. Houston and his team hope to eventually extend their research into other areas, including ADHD and autism spectrum disorder