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Hear Res. 2009 Sep;255(1-2):129-34. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2009.06.011. Epub 2009 Jun 26.

Vocal singing by prelingually-deafened children with cochlear implants.

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School of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA.


The coarse pitch information in cochlear implants might hinder the development of singing in prelingually-deafened pediatric users. In the present study, seven prelingually-deafened children with cochlear implants (5.4-12.3 years old) sang one song that was the most familiar to him or her. The control group consisted of 14 normal-hearing children (4.1-8.0 years old). The fundamental frequencies (F0) of each note in the recorded songs were extracted. The following five metrics were computed based on the reference music scores: (1) F0 contour direction of the adjacent notes, (2) F0 compression ratio of the entire song, (3) mean deviation of the normalized F0 across the notes, (4) mean deviation of the pitch intervals, and (5) standard deviation of the note duration differences. Children with cochlear implants showed significantly poorer performance in the pitch-based assessments than the normal-hearing children. No significant differences were seen between the two groups in the rhythm-based measure. Prelingually-deafened children with cochlear implants have significant deficits in singing due to their inability to manipulate pitch in the correct directions and to produce accurate pitch height. Future studies with a large sample size are warranted in order to account for the large variability in singing performance.

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