This study aimed to (a) to investigate the acoustic characteristics of speech in preschool-age children with cochlear implants (CIs) compared to those in age-matched children with normal hearing (NH), (b) to identify which acoustic measures could differentiate children with CIs from children with NH, (c) to explore the relationships between child variables and the perceptually judged ability to control prosody in the CI group, and (d) to examine predictors of perceptually judged ability in children with CIs to control prosody. Study participants included 30 children with CIs (3–5.9 years old) and 30 age-matched children with NH. Children were asked to imitate 20 utterances, which were syntactically matched 10 statements and 10 questions. Fundamental frequency, intensity, and duration measures were obtained from the final word of each utterance. Ten adults rated the prosodic-contour appropriateness of the children with CIs using a 5-point scale. Children with CIs tended to produce less distinctive declarative and interrogative utterances compared to children with NH. The mean F0 significantly differentiated children with CIs from their NH peers. In children with CIs, perceptual ratings of prosodic-contour appropriateness were significantly correlated with age, duration of implant use, and percentage of consonants corrects. Duration of implant use was a significant factor predicting the ability to control prosody in children with CIs. These findings suggested that preschool-age children with CIs have difficulty in controlling pitch parameters, compared with the NH peers. The prosodic development in children with CIs was affected by the hearing experience via CIs.
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- Cochlear implant
- prosodic control