Background and aim: It remains unclear how recognition of segmental and suprasegmental phonemes contributes to sentence-level language processing skills in Mandarin-speaking children with cochlear implants (CIs). Our study examined the influence of implantation age on the recognition of consonants, lexical tones and sentences respectively, and more importantly, the contribution of phonological skills to sentence repetition accuracy in Mandarin-speaking children with CIs. Methods: The participants were three groups of prelingually deaf children who received cochlear implants at various ages and their age-matched controls with normal hearing. Three tasks were administered to assess their consonant perception, lexical tone recognition and language skills in open-set sentence repetition. Results: Children with CIs lagged behind NH peers in all the three tests, and performances on segmental, suprasegmental and sentence-level processing were differentially modulated by implantation age. Furthermore, performances on recognition of consonants and lexical tones were significant predictors of sentence repetition accuracy in the children with CIs. Conclusion: Overall, segmental and suprasegmental perception as well as sentence-level processing is impaired in Mandarin-speaking children with CIs compared with age-matched children with NH. In children with CIs recognition of segmental and suprasegmental phonemes at the lower level predicts sentence repetition accuracy at the higher level. More importantly, implantation age plays an important role in the development of phonological skills and higher-order language skills, suggesting that age-appropriate aural rehabilitation and speech intervention programs need to be developed in order to better help CI users who receive CIs at different ages.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology