MULAPAPU-How musical training and singing improve speech and language skills of children with hearing loss

  • Torppa, Ritva (Project manager)
  • Aarnisalo, Antti (Participant)
  • Nissilä, Ilkka (Participant)
  • Sammler, Daniela (Participant)
  • Jaschke, Artur (Participant)
  • Xu, Li (Participant)
  • Service, Elisabet (Participant)
  • Huhtinen-Hilden, Laura (Participant)
  • Pekkala, Seija (Participant)
  • Keitilä, Lotta (Project manager)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description (abstract)

The overall aim of the present project is to study whether and how musical activities improve speech perception and language skills of children with hearing loss (HL). The applicant’s previous studies have led the way in showing that children aged 4-13 years with HL and specifically with unilateral cochlear implant (CI), who participate in more musical activities that involve singing, have better speech in noise perception and language skills, and that these skills improve together with better perception of pitch, rhythm and prosody, and auditory working memory and singing accuracy. The present project aims to strengthen and expand these findings to younger, 0-6-year-old children who wear new-generation, bilateral CIs or hearing aids, to new language skills (word fluency, rapid alternative naming, and nonword repetition), chosen for the study based on the previous and preliminary results of the applicant, and to verify the fact that musical intervention improves speech and language skills and aspects associated with these in children with HL. Since the previous results suggest that informal singing of parents and children themselves is important in improving speech and language skills, the project assesses the role of these with new methodologies, by collecting data on the regularity of informal singing using modern tablets and diaries. For the first time, the study also assesses the role of singing, executive functioning (inhibition) and music-related properties of speech (sung and prosodically rich vs. monotonous) for the listening effort of children with HL and their peers with normal hearing. Importantly, the project uses here cutting-edge child-friendly optical imaging (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) to assess the brain activity related to listening effort.

The project is a step forward in using optical imaging in clinical work with expected scientific breakthroughs. Moreover, the results are expected to guide further research and clinicians, such as speech and language therapists, towards better supporting the speech and language skills of 34 million children with HL living worldwide. These skills are important for educational success, for interaction with peers and adults, and for social relationships and well-being. Therefore, the current project can have a longstanding, positive societal and economic impact.

Short titleMULAPAPU
Effective start/end date02/09/201931/12/2025


  • Stiftelsen Leo, Mary och Mary-Ann Hackman : €10,000.00