Objectives/Hypothesis: Individual speech and language outcomes of deaf children with cochlear implants (CIs) are quite varied. Individual differences in underlying cognitive functions may explain some of this variance. The current study investigated whether behavioral inhibition skills of deaf children were related to performance on a range of audiologic outcome measures.
Design: Retrospective analysis of longitudinal data collected from prelingually and profoundly deaf children who used CIs.
Methods: Behavioral inhibition skills were measured using a visual response delay task that did not require hearing. Speech and language measures were obtained from behavioral tests administered at 1-year intervals of CI use.
Results: Female subjects showed higher response delay scores than males. Performance increased with length of CI use. Younger children showed greater improvement in performance as a function of device use than older children. No other subject variable had a significant effect on response delay score. A series of multiple regression analyses revealed several significant relations between delay task performance and open set word recognition, vocabulary, receptive language, and expressive language scores.
Conclusions: The present results suggest that CI experience affects visual information processing skills of prelingually deaf children. Furthermore, the observed pattern of relations suggests that speech and language processing skills are closely related to the development of response delay skills in prelingually deaf children with CIs. These relations may reflect underlying verbal encoding skills, subvocal rehearsal skills, and verbally mediated self-regulatory skills. Clinically, visual response delay tasks may be useful in assessing behavioral and cognitive development in deaf children after implantation.