Verbal learning and memory in early- implanted, prelingually deaf adolescent and adult cochlear implant users

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the information-processing strategies of early-implanted, prelingually deaf cochlear implant (CI) users with the California Verbal Learning Test-Second Edition (CVLT-II; Delis, Kramer, Kaplan, & Ober, 2000), a well-established normed measure of verbal learning and memory used in neuropsychological assessments of memory loss. Method: Verbal learning and memory skills were compared in 20 older adolescent and young adult prelingually deaf long-term early-implanted CI users and their 24 normal hearing (NH) peers using the CVLT-II, a widely used multitrial free recall test of verbal learning and memory. Results: On average, CI users recalled fewer words than their NH peers across the immediate, delayed, and cued recall trials of the CVLT-II but were comparable to their NH peers on yes/no recognition memory. CI users showed little evidence of semantic clustering of words during free recall but greater serial clustering compared to their NH peers, suggesting fundamental disturbances in automatic semantic activation of words from long-term memory. No differences were found in verbal memory between CI users and their NH peers on measures of retroactive interference and encoding/retrieval interactions. Performance on the 2nd word list of the CVLT-II (List B) and amount of semantic clustering of words during recall were correlated with sentence recognition in the CI group. Conclusion: Study findings demonstrate significant differences in free recall performance and information-processing strategies that early-implanted, prelingually deaf CI users use to encode, organize, store, and retrieve spoken words in conventional verbal list learning paradigms, compared to their NH peers. Because verbal learning and memory are core foundational processes routinely used in daily functioning for a wide range of neurocognitive and language processing operations, these findings suggest potential domains for assessment and novel interventions to promote the development of optimal outcomes in prelingually deaf early-implanted longterm CI users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1050
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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