NIH-Funded Study Uses AI to Improve Language for Children with Cochlear Implants

Newswise — A new multicenter study will use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze pre-surgical brain MRI scans to predict individual-level language outcomes in English- and Spanish-Learning children up to four years after cochlear implantation. The long-term goal of the research is to adapt therapy to increase the hearing and language abilities of children after receiving a cochlear implant.

The study received funding of more than $3 million from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders awarded to Nancy M. Young, MD, from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and Patrick CM Wong, PhD , from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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“Although cochlear implantation is the only effective treatment to improve hearing and enable spoken language for children with severe to profound hearing loss, the development of spoken language after early implantation more changed compared to children born with normal hearing.” said Dr. Young, Medical Director of Audiology and Cochlear Implant Programs at Lurie Children’s and the Lillian S. Wells Professor of Otolaryngology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Our study is the first to propose a ‘predict-to-prescribe’ approach to optimize language by determining which child will benefit from more intensive therapy. We believe this approach could be cost-effectively by targeting those most in need of additional therapy.”

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The study will evaluate how AI-enabled predictions of children’s language outcomes equate to levels of language gains following an intensive Parent-Implemented Communication Treatment (PICT) program. PICT is the only treatment of its kind whose efficacy is supported by a randomized controlled trial.

“We hypothesized that the more severe the predicted language impairment, the more the child would benefit from a communication therapy program,” explained Dr. Wong, who is the Director of the Brain and Mind Institute and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Linguistics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Our translational research will advance the field of communication disorders through technological, theoretical and clinical innovations.”

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Research at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, revolutionizing pediatric medicine and ensuring a healthier future through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by US News & World Report. This is the pediatric training ground for the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


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