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Original Article
May 2004

Nonword Imitation by Children With Cochlear Implants: Consonant Analyses

Author Affiliations

From Indiana University, Bloomington (Ms Dillon and Dr Pisoni); City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, NY (Dr Cleary); and University of Arizona, Tucson (Dr Carter). The authors have no relevant financial interest in this article.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004;130(5):587-591. doi:10.1001/archotol.130.5.587

Objectives  To complete detailed linguistic analyses of archived recordings of pediatric cochlear implant users' imitations of nonwords; to gain insight into the children's developing phonological systems and the wide range of variability in nonword responses.

Design  Nonword repetition: repetition of 20 auditory-only English-sounding nonwords.

Setting  Central Institute for the Deaf "Education of the Deaf Child" research program, St Louis, Mo.

Participants  Eighty-eight 8- to 10-year-old experienced pediatric cochlear implant users.

Main Outcome Measures  Several different consonant accuracy scores based on the linguistic structure (voicing, place, and manner of articulation) of the consonants being imitated; analysis of the errors produced for all consonants imitated incorrectly.

Results  Seventy-six children provided a response to at least 75% of the nonword stimuli. In these children's responses, 33% of the target consonants were imitated correctly, 25% of the target consonants were deleted, and substitutions were provided for 42% of the target consonants. The children tended to correctly reproduce target consonants with coronal place (which involve a mid–vocal tract constriction) more often than other consonants. Poorer performers tended to produce more deletions than the better performers, but their production errors tended to follow the same patterns as the better performers.

Conclusions  Poorer performance on labial consonants suggests that scores were affected by the lack of visual cues such as lip closure. Oral communication users tended to perform better than total communication users, indicating that oral communication methods are beneficial to the development of pediatric cochlear implant users' phonological processing skills.