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      Acoustics of Emotional Prosody Produced by Prelingually Deaf Children With Cochlear Implants

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          Purpose: Cochlear implants (CIs) provide reasonable levels of speech recognition quietly, but voice pitch perception is severely impaired in CI users. The central question addressed here relates to how access to acoustic input pre-implantation influences vocal emotion production by individuals with CIs. The objective of this study was to compare acoustic characteristics of vocal emotions produced by prelingually deaf school-aged children with cochlear implants (CCIs) who were implanted at the age of 2 and had no usable hearing before implantation with those produced by children with normal hearing (CNH), adults with normal hearing (ANH), and postlingually deaf adults with cochlear implants (ACI) who developed with good access to acoustic information prior to losing their hearing and receiving a CI.

          Method: A set of 20 sentences without lexically based emotional information was recorded by 13 CCI, 9 CNH, 9 ANH, and 10 ACI, each with a happy emotion and a sad emotion, without training or guidance. The sentences were analyzed for primary acoustic characteristics of the productions.

          Results: Significant effects of Emotion were observed in all acoustic features analyzed (mean voice pitch, standard deviation of voice pitch, intensity, duration, and spectral centroid). ACI and ANH did not differ in any of the analyses. Of the four groups, CCI produced the smallest acoustic contrasts between the emotions in voice pitch and emotions in its standard deviation. Effects of developmental age (highly correlated with the duration of device experience) and age at implantation (moderately correlated with duration of device experience) were observed, and interactions with the children’s sex were also observed.

          Conclusion: Although prelingually deaf CCI and postlingually deaf ACI are listening to similar degraded speech and show similar deficits in vocal emotion perception, these groups are distinct in their productions of contrastive vocal emotions. The results underscore the importance of access to acoustic hearing in early childhood for the production of speech prosody and also suggest the need for a greater role of speech therapy in this area.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Vocal emotion recognition by normal-hearing listeners and cochlear implant users.

           John Galvin,  Qian Fu,  Xin Luo (2007)
          The present study investigated the ability of normal-hearing listeners and cochlear implant users to recognize vocal emotions. Sentences were produced by 1 male and 1 female talker according to 5 target emotions: angry, anxious, happy, sad, and neutral. Overall amplitude differences between the stimuli were either preserved or normalized. In experiment 1, vocal emotion recognition was measured in normal-hearing and cochlear implant listeners; cochlear implant subjects were tested using their clinically assigned processors. When overall amplitude cues were preserved, normal-hearing listeners achieved near-perfect performance, whereas listeners with cochlear implant recognized less than half of the target emotions. Removing the overall amplitude cues significantly worsened mean normal-hearing and cochlear implant performance. In experiment 2, vocal emotion recognition was measured in listeners with cochlear implant as a function of the number of channels (from 1 to 8) and envelope filter cutoff frequency (50 vs 400 Hz) in experimental speech processors. In experiment 3, vocal emotion recognition was measured in normal-hearing listeners as a function of the number of channels (from 1 to 16) and envelope filter cutoff frequency (50 vs 500 Hz) in acoustic cochlear implant simulations. Results from experiments 2 and 3 showed that both cochlear implant and normal-hearing performance significantly improved as the number of channels or the envelope filter cutoff frequency was increased. The results suggest that spectral, temporal, and overall amplitude cues each contribute to vocal emotion recognition. The poorer cochlear implant performance is most likely attributable to the lack of salient pitch cues and the limited functional spectral resolution.
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            Processing F0 with cochlear implants: Modulation frequency discrimination and speech intonation recognition.

            Fundamental frequency (F0) processing by cochlear implant (CI) listeners was measured using a psychophysical task and a speech intonation recognition task. Listeners' Weber fractions for modulation frequency discrimination were measured using an adaptive, 3-interval, forced-choice paradigm: stimuli were presented through a custom research interface. In the speech intonation recognition task, listeners were asked to indicate whether resynthesized bisyllabic words, when presented in the free field through the listeners' everyday speech processor, were question-like or statement-like. The resynthesized tokens were systematically manipulated to have different initial-F0s to represent male vs. female voices, and different F0 contours (i.e. falling, flat, and rising) Although the CI listeners showed considerable variation in performance on both tasks, significant correlations were observed between the CI listeners' sensitivity to modulation frequency in the psychophysical task and their performance in intonation recognition. Consistent with their greater reliance on temporal cues, the CI listeners' performance in the intonation recognition task was significantly poorer with the higher initial-F0 stimuli than with the lower initial-F0 stimuli. Similar results were obtained with normal hearing listeners attending to noiseband-vocoded CI simulations with reduced spectral resolution.
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              Voice emotion recognition by cochlear-implanted children and their normally-hearing peers.

              Despite their remarkable success in bringing spoken language to hearing impaired listeners, the signal transmitted through cochlear implants (CIs) remains impoverished in spectro-temporal fine structure. As a consequence, pitch-dominant information such as voice emotion, is diminished. For young children, the ability to correctly identify the mood/intent of the speaker (which may not always be visible in their facial expression) is an important aspect of social and linguistic development. Previous work in the field has shown that children with cochlear implants (cCI) have significant deficits in voice emotion recognition relative to their normally hearing peers (cNH). Here, we report on voice emotion recognition by a cohort of 36 school-aged cCI. Additionally, we provide for the first time, a comparison of their performance to that of cNH and NH adults (aNH) listening to CI simulations of the same stimuli. We also provide comparisons to the performance of adult listeners with CIs (aCI), most of whom learned language primarily through normal acoustic hearing. Results indicate that, despite strong variability, on average, cCI perform similarly to their adult counterparts; that both groups' mean performance is similar to aNHs' performance with 8-channel noise-vocoded speech; that cNH achieve excellent scores in voice emotion recognition with full-spectrum speech, but on average, show significantly poorer scores than aNH with 8-channel noise-vocoded speech. A strong developmental effect was observed in the cNH with noise-vocoded speech in this task. These results point to the considerable benefit obtained by cochlear-implanted children from their devices, but also underscore the need for further research and development in this important and neglected area. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled .

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                30 September 2019
                : 10
                Auditory Prostheses and Perception Laboratory, Center for Hearing Research, Boys Town National Research Hospital , Omaha, NE, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Mary Rudner, Linköping University, Sweden

                Reviewed by: Frank A. Russo, Ryerson University, Canada; Timothy Beechey, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States

                *Correspondence: Monita Chatterjee, monita.chatterjee@

                Present address: Julie A. Christensen, Otolaryngology Branch, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States

                Mohsen Hozan, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, Barkley Memorial Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States; Biological Systems Engineering Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States

                Jenni L. Sis, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, Barkley Memorial Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States; Biological Systems Engineering Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States

                Sara A. Damm, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, NE, United States

                This article was submitted to Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2019 Chatterjee, Kulkarni, Siddiqui, Christensen, Hozan, Sis and Damm.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 35, Pages: 15, Words: 11084
                Funded by: NIH NIDCD
                Award ID: R01 DC014233
                Funded by: Clinical Management Core of NIH NIGMS
                Award ID: P20 GM109023
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

                children, acoustics, cochlear implants, speech, production, vocal, emotion


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