Facial Emotion Perception and Recognition in Adolescents with Cochlear Implants



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This dissertation compares visual emotion perception and processing in adolescents with cochlear implants (CI) and adolescents with typical hearing (TH) to investigate if differences in emotion recognition underlie difficulties in social-emotional communication experienced by pediatric CI users. Collectively, this series of manuscripts examines the effect of prelingual hearing loss on the emotion perception and interpretation components of social cognition. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the ability of adolescents with CI and adolescents with TH to interpret facial expressions of varying stimulus motion and emotion intensity levels using traditional behavioral measures of recognition. Chapter 2 (Study 1) reports findings from Warner-Czyz et al. (2019) that compared how adolescent CI users and TH peers (aged 10 ─18 years) interpret static photographs of full-intensity emotions (i.e., 100% of an expression). Adolescents with CI interpreted static photographs of expressions similarly to adolescents with TH. Chapter 3 (Study 2) examines the effect of stimulus motion (i.e., static photographs vs. dynamic video clips) and varying emotion intensity on facial expression recognition for 34 adolescents with CI and 24 adolescents with TH. Results from the static and 100% intensity dynamic trials indicated that CI and TH groups interpreted full-intensity emotions similarly, regardless of stimulus motion, and achieved better emotion recognition on trials of dynamic video clips than static photographs. Comparisons of the CI and TH group on three dynamic tasks of varying emotion intensity showed that adolescents in both groups process the lowest (60%) and highest intensity emotions (100%) similarly but quantitatively differ on trials that depict 80% of an expression. Adolescents with CI interpret more realistic, subtle expressions (i.e., 80% intensity) differently than adolescents with TH. Chapter 4 (Study 3) uses eye tracking methods to explore how adolescent CI users (n = 32) and peers with TH (n = 22) perceive emotion by measuring visual attention to the static photographs of facial expressions. These data indicate adolescents with CI and adolescents with TH demonstrate qualitatively different visual attention patterns to diagnostic facial features (i.e., eyes, mouth) during real-time emotion processing. This series of studies outlines differences in facial expression perception and recognition by adolescents with CI and peers with TH and highlights a potential link between emotion recognition abilities and the social difficulties experienced by adolescent CI users.



Cochlear implants, Interpersonal communication in adolescence, Social interaction in adolescence, Emotion recognition