Topic 2.4 - Effortful listening, cognitive energy, and learning in children fitted with CI (ESR 8)

Image © Anis Ghed

The topic Effortful listening, cognitive energy, and learning in children fitted with CI will be hosted at OTIC (DK) and supervised by François Patou and Elaine Ng.

This project focuses on school-aged children with CI and how hearing, language skills, cognition, and motivation impact their learning abilities. This task will increase our knowledge on how children with CI allocate cognitive resources as well as how frameworks like ELU and FUEL apply in the context of prelingual HI. Thirty children with CI will be tested twice a year during a two-year period. Focus will be on learning of new words (implicit or explicit learning, after minimal or sustained exposure). In a task paradigm developed at Arizona State University, nonsense words are coupled with five corresponding novel pictures to serve as proxies for new words. Three parameters will vary: (1) hearing difficulty (manipulated with more or less favourable signal-to-noise ratios, which resemble typical learning environments, CI speech processing strategies, and access to visual cues), (2) cognitive resources (manipulated with presence or absence of competing tasks using a dual-task paradigm), and (3) motivation (manipulated with presence or absence of tangible or social reward). Pupillometry will be used during this task as an objective measure of cognitive load. Implicit learning will be assessed with vocabulary growth during the two-year period.

The task will generate evidence to inform clinical practice for optimising learning and language skills in children with CI. This task will be the first study to apply the FUEL and ELU models to children. This task will identify predictors of language development in children with CI. These predictors will guide optimisation of CI device processing and fitting.

During this project, the ESR will access the cohorts as part of the international and intersectorial secondments (IIS) and shorter (1-2 week) visits to participating clinics in Comm4CHILD as well as partner clinics to OTIC. The IISs will take place at the University of Oslo (NO) and at the Hôpital Universitaire des Enfants Reine Fabiola (BE). This will sharpen understanding of the relationship between cognition and language development in children with CIs as well as on audio-visual inputs for language development.

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