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Perception of Music and Speech in Adolescents with Cochlear Implants – A Pilot Study on Effects of Intensive Musical Ear Training

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Sparse information is available about the new generation of congenitally deaf children, who have grown up with the assistance of cochlear implants (CIs) and have now become teenagers. However, recent studies indicate that to keep pace with their normal hearing (NH) peers, supplementary measures of rehabilitation are important throughout adolescence. Music training may provide a beneficial method of strengthening not only music perception, but also linguistic skills, particularly prosody. The purpose of this study was to examine perception of music and speech and music engagement of adolescent CI users and the potential effects of an intensive musical ear training program.
Eleven adolescent CI users participated in a short intensive training program involving music making activities and computer based listening exercises. Ten NH agemates formed a reference group, who followed their standard school schedule and received no music training. Before and after the intervention period, both groups completed a set of tests for perception of music, speech and emotional prosody. In addition, the participants filled out a questionnaire which examined music listening habits and enjoyment.
CI users significantly improved their overall music perception and discrimination of melodic contour and rhythm in particular. No effect of the music training was found on discrimination of emotional prosody or speech. The CI users described levels of music engagement and enjoyment that were comparable to the NH reference. Furthermore, in general, the adolescent CI users gave positive ratings of the quality of music through their implant. The CI participants showed great commitment, but found music making activities more relevant than computer based training.
Given the brevity of the program and the duration and profound nature of these adolescents’ deafness, these findings are an encouraging indication of not only the potential of training but also of the plastic potential in the young brain. The fact that the young CI users exhibit a high level of music enjoyment and engagement combined with their positive feedback suggests that music training could form part of future rehabilitation programs as a strong, motivational and beneficial method of improving auditory skills in adolescent CI users.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year22 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2014
Event32nd Congress of the Nordic Association of Otolaryngology - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 21 May 201424 May 2014


Conference32nd Congress of the Nordic Association of Otolaryngology

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