Laura Rachman

The Netherlands
Bio Laura Rachman studied Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and holds a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from Sorbonne University in Paris, France. During her PhD, Laura conducted her research on real-time emotional voice transformations at IRCAM and the Brain and Spine Institute. Laura is now a researcher at University Medical Center Groningen and at Pento Audiology Center Zwolle where her work focuses on emotion perception in children with hearing loss and on effects of musical expertise on voice and speech perception in older adults.

Abstract Correctly interpreting the emotions of another person is an important part of daily communication. In children with normal hearing, the development of vocal emotion recognition skills continues throughout childhood and could be crucial for their social development. Within the group of children with hearing loss, emotion research has mainly focused on children with cochlear implants or on mixed groups of children with cochlear implants and hearing aids. Cochlear implants provide hearing to deaf children via electric stimulation, but deliver a degraded speech signal that largely explains reduced emotion perception abilities. However, the rehabilitative support that children with cochlear implants typically receive may help compensate for some of the perceptual challenges they face. Emotion perception in children with hearing aids is on the other hand a relatively understudied topic and it is less clear how the perception of voice cues expressing emotions is affected by their hearing aid combined with the degree of hearing loss. In addition, it is still unclear if difficulties in vocal emotion perception occur only because of a reduced access to relevant acoustic cues, an acute effect, or also because emotion processing skills develop differently in children with hearing loss, an accumulated effect over a longer period of time that may only be indirectly related to hearing difficulties. In this talk, I will present findings from two studies. The first study focused on vocal emotion recognition from semantically meaningless sentences in children (6-18 years) with cochlear implants or with hearing aids. The second ongoing study focuses on both vocal and facial emotion recognition in children (6-18 years) with hearing aids only. Our research will continue to explore relevant contributing factors in the development of emotion perception in children to ultimately better support their overall socioemotional development.