Music Perception, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. 156–174
Torppa, R., Faulkner, A., Kujala, T., Huotila, M. & Lipsanen, J. (2018)
The perception of speech in noise is challenging for children with cochlear implants (CIs). Singing and musical instrument playing have been associated with improved auditory skills in normal-hearing (NH) children. Therefore, we assessed how children with CIs who sing informally develop in the perception of speech in noise compared to those who do not. We also sought evidence of links of speech perception in noise with MMN and P3a brain responses to musical sounds and studied effects of age and changes over a 14–17 month time period in the speech-in-noise performance of children with CIs. Compared to the NH group, the entire CI group was less tolerant of noise in speech perception, but both groups improved similarly. The CI singing group showed better speech-in-noise perception than the CI non-singing group. The perception of speech in noise in children with CIs was associated with the amplitude of MMN to a change of sound from piano to cymbal, and in the CI singing group only, with earlier P3a for changes in timbre. While our results cannot address causality, they suggest that singing and musical instrument playing may have a potential to enhance the perception of speech in noise in children with CIs.