Perception of sung speech by young cochlear implant listeners (Wheeler et al., 2022)
Purpose: In the context of music and speech perception, this study aimed to assess the effect of variation in one of two auditory attributes—pitch contour and timbre—on the perception of the other in prelingually deafened young cochlear implant (CI) users, and the relationship between pitch contour perception and two cognitive functions of interest.
Method: Nine prelingually deafened CI users, aged 8.75–22.17 years, completed a melodic contour identification (MCI) task using stimuli of piano notes or sung speech with a fixed timbre (same word for each note) or a mixed timbre (different words for each note), a speech perception task identifying matrix-styled sentences naturally intonated or sung with a fixed pitch (same pitch for each word) or a mixed pitch (different pitches for each word), a forward digit span test indexing auditory short-term memory (STM), and the matrices section of the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test–Second Edition indexing nonverbal IQ.
Results: MCI was significantly poorer for the mixed timbre condition. Speech perception was significantly poorer for the fixed and mixed pitch conditions than for the naturally intonated condition. Auditory STM positively correlated with MCI at 2- and 3-semitone note spacings. Relative to their normal-hearing peers from a related study using the same stimuli and tasks, the CI participants showed comparable MCI at 2- or 3-semitone note spacing, and a comparable level of significant decrement in speech perception across three pitch contour conditions.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that prelingually deafened CI users show similar trends of normal-hearing peers for the effect of variation in pitch contour or timbre on the perception of the other, and that cognitive functions may underlie these outcomes to some extent, at least for the perception of pitch contour.
Supplemental Material S1. Illustration of the data from André & Nie (2018), which is referenced in the article. Note, mean performance is shown for each word position. The scale of the y-axis has been adjusted for better visualization of the U shaped pattern for the effect of word position on word identification.
Wheeler, H. J., Hatch, D. R., Moody-Antonio, S. A., & Nie, Y. (2022). Music and speech perception in prelingually deafened young listeners with cochlear implants: A preliminary study using sung speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-21-00271