Cochlear Implants: How Logan Learns Language


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Two out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born hard of hearing or totally deaf. For some, cochlear implants help bridge the communication gap between themselves and the hearing world.  Now, researchers are using a high-tech system to understand more about language skills and these young learners.

Logan Manch, 3,is full of curiosity, but right after he was born his parents feared they would struggle to communicate.

“There’s mild, moderate, severe and profound and he was profoundly deaf in both ears.” Logan’s mother Sarah Lodge explained to Ivanhoe.

Doctors implanted cochlear hearing devices, but Sarah and her husband worried Logan would lag way behind big sister Jenna, when it came time to talk.

Cognitive Psychologist Derek Houston, PhD, at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio is studying the impact of cochlear implants on language by watching kids and caregivers interact.

“We just say play with your child how you normally would with these objects.” Professor Houston said.

But, the toys are given made up names. And the kids and caregivers wear head mounted cameras.

Professor Houston continued, “We can see moment by moment where they are looking from their own perspective.”

Researchers learn which made up words the kids remember, then they analyze the parental interactions that worked.

“The ultimate goal is to have evidence-based education and therapy for children with hearing loss,” Professor Houston stated.

Sara says positional words like “beside” or “inside” help sharpen Logan’s skills. She also talks through the steps of their day out loud.

“He’s come a long way,” Lodge shared.

Professor Houston says he hopes the research will soon be extended to children with ADHD and autism.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

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REPORT:       MB #4268

BACKGROUND: The term deafness can be used for all levels of hearing loss. It can occur for various reasons at different ages, but two out of every 1,000 children in the U.S.are born hard of hearing or totally deaf. There are many reasons why a child could be born deaf or become deaf in childhood. It could have to do with pre-natal causes, related to genetics or complications during pregnancy. Certain infections such as rubella, cytomegalovirus and herpes can cause a child to be born deaf.  Premature babies are often more prone to infections that can cause deafness. Severe jaundice or lack of oxygen could also be an underlying cause, or infections in early childhood such as meningitis, measles or mumps.

STANDARD TREATMENT: Technology does not cure hearing loss, but it may be able to help a child make the most of their residual hearing. For parents interested in the technology, there are multiple options. Hearing aids, which can amplify sounds, can be fitted behind the ears, since they are better suited for growing ears. Cochlear implants may help children with severe or profound hearing loss, usually when hearing aids are not enough. These do not make sounds louder, but send sound signals directly to the hearing nerve. One part is placed inside the ear during surgery; the other part sits outside the ear sending the signals. Bone-anchored hearing aids are for children who do not see results using regular hearing aids or cochlear implants.

NEW DEVELOPMENT: To better understand how deaf infants with cochlear implants absorb information and learn language through interactions with their parents, researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have launched this new study. They are investigating the role of deafness and subsequent cochlear implantations on infant-parent communicative interactions by collecting interaction data from deaf infants before and after cochlear implantation and also from children with normal hearing. During the audio-recorded sessions, both the parent and infant wear head-mounted cameras with eye-tracking devices to document where the child’s focus is as a parent presents a new toy with an unusual name. From six different angles, the technology records the child’s reaction as the parent says a new word, and researchers take this footage to review patterns and signs of word recognition.



Derek Houston

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