Spectral modulation detection performance and speech perception in pediatric cochlear implant recipients

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Purpose: The aims of this study were, for pediatric cochlear implant (CI) recipients, (a) to determine the effect of age on their spectral modulation detection (SMD) ability and compare their age effect to that of their typically hearing (TH) peers; (b) to identify demographic, cognitive, and audiological factors associated with SMD ability; and (c) to determine the unique contribution of SMD ability to segmental and suprasegmental speech perception performance. Method: A total of 104 pediatric CI recipients and 38 TH peers (ages 6–11 years) completed a test of SMD. CI recipients completed tests of segmental (e.g., word recognition in noise and vowels and consonants in quiet) and suprasegmental (e.g., talker discrimination, stress discrimination, and emotion identification) perception, nonverbal intelligence, and working memory. Regressions analyses were used to examine the effects of group and age on percent-correct SMD scores. For the CI group, the effects of demographic, audiological, and cognitive variables on SMD performance and the effects of SMD on speech perception were examined. Results: The TH group performed significantly better than the CI group on SMD. Both groups showed better performance with increasing age. Significant predictors of SMD performance for the CI group were age and nonverbal intelligence. SMD performance predicted significant variance in segmental and suprasegmental perception. The variance predicted by SMD performance was nearly double for suprasegmental than for segmental perception. Conclusions: Children in the CI group, on average, scored lower than their TH peers. The slopes of improvement in SMD with age did not differ between the groups. The significant effect of nonverbal intelligence on SMD performance in CI recipients indicates that difficulties inherent in the task affect outcomes. SMD ability predicted speech perception scores, with a more prominent role in suprasegmental than in segmental speech perception. SMD ability may provide a useful nonlinguistic tool for predicting speech perception benefit, with cautious interpretation based on age and cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1087
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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