Tone and sentence perception in young Mandarin-speaking children with cochlear implants.

Research paper by Yuan Y Chen, Lena L N LL Wong, Fei F Chen, Xin X Xi

Indexed on: 13 Sep '14Published on: 13 Sep '14Published in: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology


The purpose of this study was to examine the outcomes of cochlear implantation in young children in terms of (1) perception of lexical tones in quiet, (2) perception of sentences in quiet and in noise, (3) the effects of five demographic variables (i.e., preoperative hearing level, age at implantation, duration of cochlear implants use, maternal educational level, and whether a child underwent a hearing aid trial before implantation) on lexical tone perception and sentence perception, and (4) the relationship between lexical tone perception and sentence perception.96 participants, aged from 2.41 years to 7.09 years, were recruited in mainland China. The children exhibited normal cognitive abilities and received unilateral implants at an average age of 2.72 years, with ages ranging from 0.69 to 5 years of age.The mean score for tone identification was 77% (SD=13%; chance level=50%). Tone 2/tone 3 was the most difficult tone contrast to identify. Children with a longer duration of CI use and whose mothers had more years of education tended to perform better in sentence perception in quiet and in noise. Having undergone a hearing aid trial before implantation and more residual hearing were additional factors contributing to better sentence perception in noise. The only demographical variable that related to tone perception in quiet was duration of CI. In addition, while there was a modest correlation between tone perception and sentence perception in quiet (rs=0.47, p<0.001), the correlation between tone perception in quiet and sentence perception in noise was much weaker (rs=-0.28, p<0.05).The findings suggested that most young children who had been implanted before 5 years of age and had 1-3 years of implant use did not catch up with their aged peers with normal hearing in tone perception and sentence perception. The weak to moderate correlation between tone perception in quiet and sentence perception might imply that the improvement of tone perception in quiet may not necessarily contribute to sentence perception, especially in noise condition.