thecenter

Activities and Seminars

Heather Bortfeld. Infants will tune to (pretty much) anything: Implications for pediatric cochlear implant users
 
Date: Oct 30, 2014

What: Infants will tune to (pretty much) anything: Implications for pediatric cochlear implant users

Where: BCBL auditorium

Who: Heather Bortfeld, PhD; Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, UConn

When: 12 noon


Cochlear implants improve the ability of profoundly deaf children to understand speech by allowing a way for sound to be transmitted to the auditory system, despite the lack of a working conduction system in the inner ear. Much of what we know about the course of auditory learning following cochlear implantation in young children is based on behavioral indicators that they are able to perceive sound. However, congenitally-deaf children have no concept of what sound is, and thus have highly variable behavioral responses when initially exposed to it. In recent work, my collaborators and I have begun tracking changes in cortical activity in infants and young children in response to specific auditory stimulation following cochlear implantation. We are also testing typically developing infants’ ability to match degraded audio speech streams (e.g., sine wave speech) to the corresponding visual speech stream. Results from the latter work demonstrate that preverbal infants are quite flexible in what auditory information they are able to identify as speech. These findings are consistent with a multi-stage view of audiovisual speech integration and suggest that infants initially combine audiovisual information based on low-level perceptual cues. This has important theoretical implications, as well as practical implications for pediatric cochlear implant users.