6. Exploiting the somatosensory function in hearing impaired subjects for understanding and rehabilitating the perceptuo-motor loop in speech communication
The improvement of hearing and speaking ability in hearing impaired subjects is crucial for smooth communication. A central assumption in the present project is that those improvements can be achieved not individually, but interactively in both functions. As a matter of fact, recent neurocognitive studies involving our research group showed that orofacial somatosensory inputs can play a key role in the interaction between speech production and perception. It is thus expected that orofacial somatosensory inputs could intervene significantly in the improvement of both hearing and speaking in hearing impaired subjects with and/or without hearing-aids. The current project will examine the effect of orofacial somatosensory function in speech perception and speech production in hearing impaired subjects with and without hearing aids, and the relationship between the somatosensory effect and speech abilities in individual subjects, in relation with their handicap. The experimental methodology is based on a series of original paradigms developed in GIPSA-Lab, using a robotic device enabling to produce somatosensory stimulations on the face in a precisely controlled way both in space and time. The role of such stimulations for modifying and hopefully enhancing speech perception and speech production will be explored in combination with other modalities (audition and vision).