Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Communication Sciences & Disorders

First Advisor

Sofia Souto


Previous research has shown that maternal speech to normal hearing (NH) infants and speech to cochlear implant (CI) infants is characterized by similarly high pitch, increased intonation range and reduced rate of speech (Bergeson, Miller, & McCune, 2006). These findings suggest that mothers demonstrate sensitivity to the infants’ hearing experience and tailor their speech to their infants’ auditory skill levels. Pause duration in infant-directed (ID) speech has also been shown to be influenced by age and hearing experience, but its relationship to language development is unknown. It has also been found that children with hearing loss tend to be exposed to more silence in a day, which in turn relates to lower language scores (Caskey & Vohr, 2013). Although there is research on maternal speech to NH and hearing impaired infants, and there is much research on child language development, there is limited information pertaining to the correlation between the two. This thesis aimed to investigate conversational pause duration in mothers’ speech to CI infants as compared to NH infants matched on hearing age (HA), and how that is correlated with vocabulary acquisition. Longer pause duration could be correlated with lower vocabulary production, if consistent with the findings of Caskey and Vohr (2013). Sixteen mother-infant pairs (8 NH; 8 CI) participated in individual audio recorded play sessions. The time the mother allotted to her infant following her own utterance (i.e. mother-mother pause) and following infant utterances (i.e. infant-mother pause) was measured. Productive vocabulary was also recorded. Pause time between consecutive mother utterances and between a mother’s utterance and the infant’s response was measured and compared to expressive vocabulary as measured by the McArthur-Bates CDI. On average, mothers of CI infants and those of NH infants were comparable in the amount of time they allotted for their infants to respond. Mothers’ pause duration was not correlated with infants’ productive vocabulary. These results suggest that the length of time a mother pauses in conversation is not related to the child’s vocabulary development.