Study Aims to See How Children with Cochlear Implants Learn Words

Hi-tech approach uses eye-tracking devices to learn how children absorb information

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Sarah Lodge helps her son Logan, 3, learn the names of toys used in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The study uses head-mounted cameras with eye-trackers to observe children with cochlear implants and discover how to best teach them new words and develop language skills.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – A new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is examining how children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than children with normal hearing. Though implants allow children to hear, many still struggle with language skills for years because learning words with the aid of cochlear implants isn’t the same as learning naturally with normal hearing.

  “We want to understand why the language of children with cochlear implants tends to be delayed compared to typically-developing children,” said Derek Houston, who is leading the study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development. “Our approach is to examine how the hearing loss affects their basic, but very complex, interactions with their parents. That requires looking at that interaction from different angles and intensely observing every aspect of what happens during word learning.”

    The study uses several angles, including head-mounted cameras with eye-trackers, to record exactly where a child’s focus is, what they’re holding and how they react when a new word is said. After parents present toys with unusual names to the children, researchers record their reaction and review the footage to look for patterns and signs of word recognition. “We’re discovering how hearing loss affects that dynamic interaction with their parent, and how those effects, in turn, impact their general cognitive and language development,” said Houston.

    Learning more about how children with cochlear implants absorb information will help parents better guide language development. Houston says he hopes to expand his research and use the same method to discover how other populations of children learn differently, such as those with autism or attention deficit disorder.

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Sarah Lodge helps her son Logan, 3, learn the names of toys used in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The study uses head-mounted cameras with eye-trackers to observe children with cochlear implants and discover how to best teach them new words and develop language skills.

Sarah Lodge and her three-year-old son, Logan, wear head-mounted cameras with eye-tracking devices while identifying names of different toys. The cameras help researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center examine how children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than children with normal hearing.

Logan Lodge, 3, wears a head-mounted camera with an eye-tracker device during a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Every aspect of how Logan interacts with his mother is recorded and studied to learn how children with cochlear implants recognize new words differently than hearing children.

Dr. Derek Houston works with Sarah Lodge and her 3-year-old son, Logan, on language development. Cameras are used at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to study how children with cochlear implants interact differently than hearing children when learning new words.

Logan Lodge, 3, was born deaf and received cochlear implants at 10 months old. Even after implantation, hearing-impaired children often fall behind in language skills. But a study at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is using cameras to intensely study how children with cochlear implants learn new words differently in an effort to find ways to guide language development.

Dr. Derek Houston reviews footage from a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that uses several camera angles, including a head-mounted camera with an eye-tracker device, to examine how children with cochlear implants interact with their parents when learning new words. The goal is to give parents of hearing-impaired children insight into the best ways to guide language development.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center review video from an eye-tracker camera. Studying where a child’s eyes are focused when hearing a new word gives insight into how children with cochlear implants develop language skills.