Young deaf children with bilateral cochlear implants can learn words faster than hearing peers at 12, 18 and 24 months after implantation, electroencephalography studies show.
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. ~ Niki Vavatzanidis, scientist at MPI CBS / University Medical Centre Dresden.
Word Pools And Item-Word Links
Children typically need fourteen months to accurately discern when items they know are inaccurately named. Conversely, children with cochlear implants were able to do this 12 months post implant. Notably, child age does not affect how fast words are learned, with children seeming to catch up even if they were previously disadvantaged in hearing terms.
MRI Studies For Tailored Therapy
Separately, MRI studies are used to predict how well deaf children will learn language after cochlear implant surgery. Research by Lurie Children’s Hospital (Chicago), Northwestern University and The Chinese University of Hong Kong is working toward creating ‘precision’ therapy for children (music, speech and hearing) once their cochlear implant/s are in place.
Crucially, the researchers noted:
Hearing is a vital part of learning language. Important for a child’s speech development, it also influences literacy skills. The literacy of deaf children on average in the era before cochlear implants was fourth grade, which is not functional literacy
Elsewhere in the MRI-research field, investigators also noted that preterm babies were more susceptible to language difficulties at two years of age, due to the impact of early birth on the auditory cortex – the area of the brain that manages hearing and sound recognition. Again, MRI guidance could enable healthcare professionals to better identify and respond to any speech and language difficulties that arise later in these childrens’ lives.