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School of Health Sciences

Language Development Outcomes of early cochlear implant


1st Supervisor: Professor Gary Morgan

2nd Supervisor: tbc

Research Centre

Language and Communication Science

Project description

For about twenty-five years profoundly deaf children have been provided with cochlear implants (CI) (CI) that significantly improve their possibility of acquiring a spoken language. This has radically changed the way deaf children are rehabilitated and integrated into society in the UK and other countries. The technology has improved continuously and children have been implanted at ever younger ages. Combined with increasing experience with rehabilitation, this has led to astonishing results as witnessed by many studies of the children’s language abilities and social well-being (Percy-Smith et al. 2008). However, there remains a lot of variability in how well children with CI develop speech, language, and associated cognitive abilities, either because of individual children’s inability to profit fully from the technology, or because the children are less immersed in linguistic interaction with others than typically hearing children in spite of the CI.

This study will be a UK wide investigation of a large group of early implanted children (during first 12 months) aged 2-5 years (n=300) with collaboration from CI centres in London, Nottingham and Manchester. Morgan has excellent connections with clinicians at these centres. The student will work with CI teams to pool measures of spoken language (vocabulary and parent interaction), health (sensory-motor and neurological milestones) and psycho-social development (non-verbal IQ and Theory of Mind). CI teams as part of their service take these measures routinely anyway. Data will be collected at 3 time-points (6 months apart = 18 months). Research questions will use regression and mediation analysis (Baron & Kenny, 1986) to identify predictive variables for CI outcomes.

Baron, R.M., & Kenny, D.A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173.
Percy-Smith, L., Jensen, J. H., Cayé-Thomasen, P., Thomsen, P., Gudman, M., & Lopez, A. G. (2008). Factors that affect the social well-being of children with cochlear implants. Cochlear Implants International, 9(4), 199-214.

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Psychology degree
  2. Some experience with evaluating young children
  3. Some experience of CI