Language and rhythmic characteristics in mother-child communication and language development after cochlear implantation

Using an innovative approach, this research project compares 20 children with CIs with 20 chronological-age-matched children and 20 hearing-age-matched children in terms of the predictive role of individual and environmental factors for their communicative development and the characteristics of mother-child communication. The factors to be investigated include age of implantation, exposure to music and to speech in quiet at home, and parent musicality and education. Interactions between children and their mothers are observed during semi-structured play, first before CI activation and then for a period of 24 months thereafter. The mother-child interactions are coded according to different indices of responsiveness, rhythm, and synchrony. The communicative functions and the quality of mother-child communication are also considered. Data logging incorporated into the CI will provide direct information on hearing experience (auditory environment, amount of device use each day, auditory scenes, exposure to music). An intervention program will be developed with the aim of helping parents of children with CIs support their communication and their socio-emotional adjustment.


Cochlear implant, mother-child communication, child language, rhythm

Principal Investigator

Marinella Majorano, University of Verona

Project Participants

  • Domenico Cuda, ‘Guglielmo da Saliceto’ Hospital, Piacenza
  • Letizia Guerzoni, ‘Guglielmo da Saliceto’ Hospital, Piacenza
  • Manuela Lavelli, University of Verona
  • Elena Florit, University of Verona
  • Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Valentina Persici, University of Verona
  • Reyna L. Gordon, Vanderbilt University Medical Center


36 months (September 2019-  )

Current State

Data collection: complete; analysis of mother-child interaction and of the child’s language and communicative development: complete; analysis of the rhythmic aspects of language: in progress; guidelines for parents: in preparation; results: published in international peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences. More articles and presentations are in preparation.


Majorano, M., Brondino, M., Guerzoni, L., Murri, A., Ferrari, R., …, & Persici, V. (2021). “Do acoustic environment characteristics affect the lexical development of children with cochlear implants? A longitudinal study before and after cochlear implant activation”. American Journal of Audiology, 1-14.

Majorano, M., Brondino, M., Morelli, M., Ferrari, R., Lavelli, M., … & Persici, V. (2020). Preverbal production and early lexical development in children with cochlear implants: A longitudinal study following pre-implanted children until 12 months after cochlear implant activation. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 591584.

Lavelli, M., Majorano, M., Guerzoni, L., Murri, A., Barachetti, C., & Cuda D. (2018). Communicationdynamics between mothers and their children with cochlear implants: Effects of maternal support for language production. Journal of Communication Disorders, 73, 1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.03.001.

Majorano, M., Guidotti, L., Guerzoni, L., Murri, A., Morelli, M., Cuda, D., & Lavelli, M. (2018). Spontaneous language production of Italian children with cochlear implants and their mothers in two interactive contexts. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 53,70-84. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12327.

Majorano, M., Guerzoni, L., Murri, A., Guidotti, L., Morelli, M., & Cuda, D. (2017). Word learning in Italian preschool children with cochlear implants. International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 26, 690-700.

Conference presentations

Lavelli, M., Majorano, M., Guerzoni, L., Murri, A., Barachetti, C., & Cuda, D. (2017). Communication dynamics between mothers and children with cochlear implants: Effects of maternal vocal and gestural support for language production. International Conference “Language as a Form of Action”,CNR, Rome, June 21-23.

Majorano, M., Bastianello, T., Murari, C., & Lavelli, M. (2016). Caratteristiche e processi comunicativi dell’interazione madre-bambino con impianto cocleare. In Simposio, XXIX Congresso Naz.AIP – Sez. Psicologia Sviluppo Edu.,Vicenza, 8-10 settembre.