Emotional Speech Perception in Prelingually and Postlingually Deaf Cochlear Implant Users: A Review

ABSTRACT Accurate and meaningful verbal communication between individuals requires the use of both emotional semantics and emotional prosody. When hearing is impaired, the auditory signal becomes degraded, making the perception of emotional prosody difficult. Such is the case with cochlear implants (CIs). Limitations of CI technology may cause diminished or lost cues of emotional speech. A degraded auditory signal, like the one experienced by individuals using CIs, affects the way individuals perceive multiple aspects of the speech signal, including emotional speech. The purpose of this brief review is to explain some of the difference between how prelingually deaf CI users and postlingually deaf CI users perceive emotional speech. Evidence shows that prelingually deaf CI users are able to produce suprasegmental aspects of speech, but have difficulties correctly identifying the emotional correlates of speech. Postlingually deaf CI users also have trouble identifying prosodic cues in speech when visual cues are removed. More research is needed to determine exactly how much of the subtle cues available in emotional speech is lost due to the technical limitations of the CI. More research is also needed to determine how accurately the CI user from both prelingual and postlingual groups interpret the messages they hear based on respective auditory cues and visual cues. Keywords: emotional speech, emotional prosody, speech perception, cochlear implant, prelingual deafness, postlingual deafness