Early cognitive development relies on the sensory experiences that infants acquire as they explore their environment. Atypical experience in one sensory modality from birth may result in fundamental differences in general cognitive abilities. The primary aim of the current study was to compare visual habituation in infants with profound hearing loss, prior to receiving cochlear implants (CIs), and age-matched peers with typical hearing. Two complementary measures of cognitive function and attention maintenance were assessed: the length of time to habituate to a visual stimulus, and look-away rate during habituation. Findings revealed that deaf infants were slower to habituate to a visual stimulus and demonstrated a lower look-away rate than hearing infants. For deaf infants, habituation measures correlated with language outcomes on standardized assessments before cochlear implantation. These findings are consistent with prior evidence suggesting that habituation and look-away rates reflect efficiency of information processing and may suggest that deaf infants take longer to process visual stimuli relative to the hearing infants. Taken together, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that hearing loss early in infancy influences aspects of general cognitive functioning.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)