This touching video shows a woman's reaction to her cochlear implants. It seems to me amazing that someone hearing for the first time would be able to understand the signal (speech) so well and even apparently know that the sound is too high-pitched. I imagine that the technician is probably signing quite a bit, but nonetheless, it seems like the patient is understanding spoken speech at least to a significant degree.

Do people who have never experienced sound immediately have the ability to interpret spoken language? (I've seen another video where a person with cochlear implants is moved by her first exposure to music, which raises similar questions.)

(Not sure if this is more a straight biology / medicine SE question...)

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    One article said: If it had failed, the hearing aids she had worn since she was two would not have been effective any more so she apparently had at least some partial hearing from hearing aids prior to the implants. – Johnny Apr 1 '14 at 20:51
  • @Johnny If you wanted to make that an answer, it seems to answer the question for at least the case at hand. – Larry OBrien Apr 2 '14 at 22:24
  • I didn't make it an answer since the reference was so vague without any detail - Velda did the research and found more details on her hearing before the implants. – Johnny Apr 4 '14 at 0:29

Regarding the person you mentioned, there's another article (Mail) explaining her experience with Usher Syndrome in detail (kudos to comment from Johnny):

She explains: 'My hearing aids gave me some sense of the environment around me. I could recognise when someone started talking, like an indistinct noise, but I had to lip-read to understand what they were saying. And I couldn't distinguish different voices. But with my implant I can identify voices, hear individual words and sounds. It's just amazing. 'I used to rely on someone to tap me on the arm or leg to indicate that they were talking. Because I lip-read, I always had to look at them to know what they were saying.

It's also worth noting that her speech therapist was in the room with her when her implants started working. It's possible she had some speech therapy for quite some time. So the ability to understand someone talking after receding deafness may depend on that. It also depends on the amount of hearing loss involved, since deafness may vary from person to person.

There's also another deaf person who manages to produce spoken words after 18 years of speech therapy, in spite of not having a cochlear implant - Rachel Kolb. http://youtu.be/uKKpjvPd6Xo She had to feel the vibrations coming from the nose and throat to understand how the spoken word was produced.


I don't think so.

Language is a process to communicate ideas/meaning, and that requires besides the sender of the message and the receiver, a medium and a set of rules

To understand a spoken language you need to learn it. Learning a language is a cognitive process in several levels (phonetically, syntactically, semantically, etc).

You can partially learn a spoken language (think of an opera singer that sings in a foreign language, but can´t speak it) or the oposite (learn to read/write in a non-spoken language like morse code)

In this case (I saw the video and thought about it for a while), my conclusion is that the lady had the ability to understand the spoken language (at least at some level) reading lips, so it is possible that she could understand parts (or most/all) of what the other person was talking by reading lips, and realised that there are sounds associated to the words she could understand.


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