Perception of music and speech in adolescents with cochlear implants – A pilot study on effects of intensive musical ear training
The purpose of this study was to examine 1) perception of music and speech of pre-lingually deaf adolescent cochlear-implant (CI) users, 2) the potential effects of an intensive musical ear training program, and 3) these adolescents’ music engagement. Eleven adolescent CI users participated in a short intensive training program involving music-making activities and computer-based listening exercises. Before and after the program they completed music and speech tests. In addition, the participants filled out a questionnaire which examined music listening habits and enjoyment. A normally-hearing (NH) group provided reference data at the same points of time, but received no training. CI users significantly improved their overall music perception and discrimination of melodic contour and rhythm in particular. The NH reference group produced marginally-lower music discrimination scores at the second test. No effect of the music training was found on discrimination of emotional prosody or speech. The CI users described levels of music engagement and enjoyment that were comparable to the NH reference. The CI participants showed great commitment, but found computer-based training less relevant than music-making activities. The findings are an indication of not only the potential of training but also of the plastic potential in the young brain.
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