8. Effortful listening, cognitive energy, and learning in children fitted with cochlear implant

Beneficiary: Oticon Medical, Denmark

This project focuses on school-aged children with cochlear implant and how hearing, language skills, cognition, and motivation impact their learning abilities. This task will increase our knowledge on how children with cochlear implant allocate cognitive resources as well as how frameworks like ELU and FUEL apply in the context of prelingual hearing impairment. Thirty children with cochlear implant 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). The investigation will revolve around a task paradigm involving the semantic matching of nonsense words coupled with novel pictures. Three parameters will vary: (1) hearing difficulty (manipulated with more or less favourable signal-to-noise ratios, which resemble typical learning environments, cochlear implant 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 cochlear implant. 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 cochlear implant. These predictors will guide optimisation of cochlear implant device processing and fitting.

Supervisors: François Patou and Elaine Ng