Susan Nittrouer received her PhD from the City University of New York. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Haskins Laboratories she began work at Boys Town National Research Hospital, and has been a faculty member at Utah State University and the Ohio State University. Currently she is Professor and Chair of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Florida. Her research focuses on language development, including that of children with hearing loss or dyslexia.
The invention of the cochlear implant in the latter part of the last century tremendously raised prospects that children born with severe-to-profound hearing loss would be able to develop spoken language commensurate to that of their normal-hearing peers. With these raised expectations evolved a two-factor model of language acquisition, which posits the duration of auditory input, dependent on the age of implantation, and the quality of cognitive resources as the major sources of variability in outcomes for children with cochlear implants. However, emerging evidence from a longitudinal study of children who received cochlear implants at young ages has revealed that the precision of children’s speech production during the preschool years explains large amounts of variability in later language skills, and those language skills support cognitive functions. This presentation will review those results and propose a model of language development that views the elements of linguistic organization as having sensorimotor precursors.