Pitch Accuracy of Vocal Singing in Deaf Children With Bimodal Hearing and Bilateral Cochlear Implants

Li Xu, Jing Yang, Emily Hahn, Rosalie Uchanski, Lisa Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the pitch accuracy of vocal singing in children with severe to profound hearing loss who use bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) or bimodal devices [CI at one ear and hearing aid (HA) at the other] in comparison to similarly-aged children with normal-hearing (NH). Design: The participants included four groups: (1) 26 children with NH, (2) 13 children with bimodal devices, (3) 31 children with bilateral CIs that were implanted sequentially, and (4) 10 children with bilateral CIs that were implanted simultaneously. All participants were aged between 7 and 11 years old. Each participant was recorded singing a self-chosen song that was familiar to him or her. The fundamental frequencies (F0) of individual sung notes were extracted and normalized to facilitate cross-subject comparisons. Pitch accuracy was quantified using four pitch-based metrics calculated with reference to the target music notes: mean note deviation, contour direction, mean interval deviation, and F0 variance ratio. A one-way ANOVA was used to compare listener-group difference on each pitch metric. A principal component analysis showed that the mean note deviation best accounted for pitch accuracy in vocal singing. A regression analysis examined potential predictors of CI children's singing proficiency using mean note deviation as the dependent variable and demographic and audiological factors as independent variables. Results: The results revealed significantly poorer performance on all four pitch-based metrics in the three groups of children with CIs in comparison to children with NH. No significant differences were found among the three CI groups. Among the children with CIs, variability in the vocal singing proficiency was large. Within the group of 13 bimodal users, the mean note deviation was significantly correlated with their unaided pure-tone average thresholds (r = 0.582, p = 0.037). The regression analysis for all children with CIs, however, revealed no significant demographic or audiological predictor for their vocal singing performance. Conclusion: Vocal singing performance in children with bilateral CIs or bimodal devices is not significantly different from each other on a group level. Compared to children with NH, the pediatric bimodal and bilateral CI users, in general, demonstrated significant deficits in vocal singing ability. Demographic and audiological factors, known from previous studies to be associated with good speech and language development in prelingually-deafened children with CIs, were not associated with singing accuracy for these children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1346
Number of pages11
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • Bilateral cochlear implantation
  • Bimodal hearing
  • Cochlear implant
  • Pediatric
  • Vocal singing


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