SPUR 2019: Effects of acoustic hearing experience on performance of cochlear implant users


A cochlear implant (CI) was first introduced in the mid-1980s to help post-lingually deafened adults hear again by stimulating auditory nerves directly using electrical stimulation. Since then, outcomes of CIs have improved dramatically which, in turn, extended CI candidacy to young children and people with residual hearing. Today, a child born deaf can receive a CI at around his/her first birthday. There is another group of children who were born with hearing, but became deaf later in life. Etiologies of the late-onset hearing loss may include cytomegalovirus, enlarged vestibular aqueduct, meningitis, genetic factors, etc. These late-onset deaf children can receive CIs later in life.

Previous studies show that CI users perform well with speech perception in quiet but still struggle with speech perception in noise and music appreciation. These difficulties may be due to the limitation of CIs in that they cannot stimulate low-frequency regions well. In this project, we will explore the relationship between voice recognition, speech perception in noise, and music perception in CI users and the CI users’ acoustic hearing experiences before the implantation. We will recruit two CI child groups (early-implanted vs. late-implanted due to late-onset deafness) and compare their voice recognition, speech perception in noise, and music perception abilities. We hypothesize that the late-implanted CI group with longer acoustic hearing experiences will outperform the early-implanted CI group in these measures. This project will help us understand the effect of acoustic hearing experience before implantation on post-operation CI performance.

Student Role

The student will read relevant articles to learn about cochlear implants and general outcomes of cochlear implantation. She or he will learn about our laboratory procedures. The student will participate in scheduling research participants. Also, she or he will administer testing including hearing and speech and music perception with a mentor or graduate students. The student will enter and analyze data. It is expected that the student will work on the abstract for an oral or poster presentation or publish data. The student may choose to take the opportunity in being a co-author for a paper in a professional journal.

Student Learning Outcomes & Benefits

The student will learn how to construct a research question, design a study, collect data, and discuss the results. She or he will also learn how to do trouble shooting. The student will gain experience working in a cochlear implant laboratory at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The student will have opportunities to interact with people with hearing loss and cochlear implant users. This experience will be particularly valuable for students considering graduate school in audiology, speech-language pathology, or any medical and health-related areas. The student will have an oral or post presentation and publication experience. This experience will help students to pursue applying for other grants.

Julie Jeon
Assistant Professor

Communication Sciences & Disorders
College of Health

I welcome students with various backgrounds, identities, and research interests. I respect students and pay attention to their needs. I give opportunities for undergraduate students to develop their research ideas in my laboratory. I help students perform research, interpret findings, and present and publish the data. At all times, the student will work with me or graduate students to meet with research subjects and administer testing. I have a passion for teaching students about audiology and how audiologists help people with hearing loss. My office is right across the lab and I am available for students any time. Also, we set up a weekly, individual meeting for about 1 hour. During this meeting, we read relevant articles, discuss research, prepare manuscripts, and share in any issues that may arise and work to solve the conflicts together. I envision mentoring as a life-long relationship since we are in the research field where encouragement and persistence is needed.