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According to the National Institute of Health’s latest report, there are approximately 30,000 children with cochlear implants in the U.S. Cochlear implants in young children with profound deafness or severe hearing impairment can make a significant difference, especially in language development. Parents and educators are aware, however, that children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than other children, and their development tends to lag behind children with normal hearing.

A research team at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center‘s Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development is studying how children with the implants develop their language skills. The team supplies parents and their children with helmets with several head-mounted eye-tracking cameras. With these setups, parents and others who view the videos can see and record exactly where the child’s focus is when new words or names are introduced. The researchers are particularly interested in reaction patterns and any signs of word recognition.

The goal of the research is not only to better understand how those children learn. The researchers intend to extend their findings to other populations such as children with autism and attention deficit disorder (ADD). The hope is to be able to help educators and parents guide children’s language development.