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Development of Audiovisual Comprehension Skills in Prelingually Deaf Children With Cochlear Implants

Bergeson, Tonya R.; Pisoni, David B.; Davis, Rebecca A. O.

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Objective: The present study investigated the development of audiovisual comprehension skills in prelingually deaf children who received cochlear implants.

Design: We analyzed results obtained with the Common Phrases (Robbins et al., 1995) test of sentence comprehension from 80 prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants who were enrolled in a longitudinal study, from pre-implantation to 5 years after implantation.

Results: The results revealed that prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants performed better under audiovisual (AV) presentation compared with auditory-alone (A-alone) or visual-alone (V-alone) conditions. AV sentence comprehension skills were found to be strongly correlated with several clinical outcome measures of speech perception, speech intelligibility, and language. Finally, pre-implantation V-alone performance on the Common Phrases test was strongly correlated with 3-year postimplantation performance on clinical outcome measures of speech perception, speech intelligibility, and language skills.

Conclusions: The results suggest that lipreading skills and AV speech perception reflect a common source of variance associated with the development of phonological processing skills that is shared among a wide range of speech and language outcome measures.

The present study investigated the development of audiovisual perception skills in hearing-impaired children who use cochlear implants. We measured audiovisual sentence comprehension in 82 prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants longitudinally, from pre-implantation to 5 years post-implantation. The results revealed greater improvement over time in audiovisual and auditory-alone comprehension skills than visual-alone comprehension skills. We also found strong effects of early experience and communication mode on children's performance. Finally, the pre-implantation measures of audiovisual speech perception were found to predict several clinical outcome measures of speech perception, speech production, and language processing after three years of cochlear implant use. These results suggest that measures of multimodal speech perception may provide new behavioral markers that can be used to identify the children who will obtain the most benefit from their cochlear implants.

Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Address for correspondence: Tonya R. Bergeson, Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, 699 West Drive, RR044, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Received October 18, 2004; accepted October 19, 2004

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.