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Keywords:

  • language;
  • theory of mind;
  • cochlear implants

Abstract

One cognitive domain in which deaf children are known to lag behind their hearing peers is that of ‘theory of mind’. Impoverished early conversational experience and deprivation of discussion about intangible mental states are seen as likely contributors to this deficit. The present study explored the relation between language and theory-of-mind capabilities in prelingually deafened children aged 4 to 11 years who were cochlear implant users. The children completed theory-of-mind tasks that indexed their ability to reason about conflicting mental representations, namely the understanding of false belief and the distinction between appearance and reality. Controlling for age, language ability was found to correlate positively and reliably with theory-of-mind performance. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.