How vocal emotions produced by children with cochlear implants are perceived by their hearing peers

Sara A. Damm, Jenni L. Sis, Aditya M. Kulkarni, Monita Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cochlear implants (CIs) transmit a degraded version of the acoustic input to the listener. This impacts the perception of harmonic pitch, resulting in deficits in the perception of voice features critical to speech prosody. Such deficits may relate to changes in how children with CIs (CCIs) learn to produce vocal emotions. The purpose of this study was to investigate happy and sad emotional speech productions by school-age CCIs, compared to productions by children with normal hearing (NH), postlingually deaf adults with CIs, and adults with NH. Method: All individuals recorded the same emotion-neutral sentences in a happy manner and a sad manner. These recordings were then used as stimuli in an emotion recognition task performed by child and adult listeners with NH. Their performance was taken as a measure of how well the 4 groups of talkers communicated the 2 emotions. Results: Results showed high variability in the identifiability of emotions produced by CCIs, relative to other groups. Some CCIs produced highly identifiable emotions, while others showed deficits. The postlingually deaf adults with CIs produced highly identifiable emotions and relatively small intersubject variability. Age at implantation was found to be a significant predictor of performance by CCIs. In addition, the NH listeners’ age predicted how well they could identify the emotions produced by CCIs. Thus, older NH child listeners were better able to identify the CCIs’ intended emotions than younger NH child listeners. In contrast to the deficits in their emotion productions, CCIs produced highly intelligible words in the sentences carrying the emotions. Conclusions: These results confirm previous findings showing deficits in CCIs’ productions of prosodic cues and indicate that early auditory experience plays an important role in vocal emotion productions by individuals with CIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3728-3740
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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