Bruce Tomblin talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Breaking Paper in the field of Social
Field: Social Sciences, general
Article Title: The effect of age at cochlear implant
initial stimulation on expressive language growth in
infants and toddlers
JB;Barker, BA;Spencer, LJ;Zhang, XY;Gantz,
Journal: J SPEECH LANG HEAR RES
Year: AUG 2005
* Univ Iowa, Dept Speech Pathol & Audiol, 119 Wendell
Johnson Speech & Hearing Ctr, Iowa City, IA 52242
* Univ Iowa, Dept Speech Pathol & Audiol, Iowa City, IA
(addresses may have been truncated; see full
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper concerns the impact of early receipt of a cochlear implant, in
children who are born deaf, on their language development. There has been a
continuing excitement about the magnitude of the effect of implantation on
the communication development of children receiving these implants and
numerous papers are being published on this topic.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
"Cochlear implantation in
children is very controversial..."
It presented some of the very first data evaluating a new clinical practice
of putting cochlear implants in infants rather than waiting until they were
18 months old. It tested a theoretical prediction that this would have a
measurable impact on the actual growth rate of language development.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
We did find evidence that earlier implantation results in more rapid growth
rates in language development. Thus, early implantation seems to result in
a more efficient language learning system.
How did you become involved in this research, and were
there any problems along the way?
I study outcomes of developmental language disorders and, in this case, I
joined a team here at the University of Iowa doing research and clinical
work with children receiving cochlear implants.
Where do you see your research leading in the
We are moving on to study mechanisms that may account for the effects of
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
Cochlear implantation in children is very controversial, particularly with
respect to the views of members of the community who are deaf. Early
implantation means that parents must make decisions soon after diagnosis
and it is quite important that parents be well-informed in order to do
this. Evidence that there are benefits from earlier implantation places
more pressure on clinicians to attempt to do this, but it also creates a
condition that challenges the decision-making process.
Director, Child Language Research Center
DC Spriestersbach Distinguished Professor
Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, USA