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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32330

Title: Talker Discrimination, Emotion Identification, and Melody Recognition by Young Children with Bilateral Cochlear Implants
Authors: Volkova, Anna
Advisor: Trehub, Sandra E.
Schellenberg, E. Glenn
Department: Psychology
Keywords: cochlear implants
talker discrimination
emotion identification
music recognition
Issue Date: 26-Mar-2012
Abstract: Users of cochlear implants typically have difficulty differentiating talkers, identifying vocal expressions of emotion, and recognizing familiar melodies because of the degraded spectral cues provided by conventional implants. This thesis examined these abilities in a small, relatively privileged sample of young bilateral implant users. In Study 1 child implant users and a control sample of hearing children were required to judge whether various utterances were produced by a man, woman, or girl (Experiment 1) and to identify the voices of cartoon characters from familiar television programs (Experiment 2). Child implant users’ performance on talker classification was comparable to that of hearing children. Their identification of cartoon characters’ voices was less accurate than that of hearing children but well above chance levels. These findings challenge conventional wisdom about the talker identification difficulties of implant users. In Study 2 the children were required to indicate whether semantically neutral utterances (Experiment 1) or classical piano excerpts (Experiment 2) sounded “happy” or “sad”. In both cases, implant users performed less accurately than hearing children but well above chance levels. Although the findings on emotion recognition in music are in line with those of previous research, the findings on emotion in speech are at odds with claims that young implant users are insensitive to vocal affect. In Study 3 the children were required to identify the theme songs from familiar television programs on the basis of combined timing and pitch cues as well as timing or pitch cues alone. Implant users’ performance was comparable to that of hearing children except when the cues were restricted to pitch relations, which resulted in performance at chance levels. The findings suggest that the musical representations of young implanted listeners include precise information about timing and coarser information about pitch. They also demonstrate, for the first time, that children, both implant users and those with normal hearing, can identify familiar music on the basis of timing cues alone. Overall, the findings highlight the importance of timing cues for implant users, the range of individual differences, and habilitation possibilities for the recognition of talkers, emotion, and music.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32330
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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