Prof. Deniz Başkent studied Electrical Engineering at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, and Biomedical Engineering at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Deniz’s PhD work was on speech processing and perception by deaf individuals with cochlear implants, conducted at the House Ear Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA, under supervision of Prof. Bob Shannon. Deniz subsequently worked as a Research Scientist on the topic of hearing aids, at Starkey Hearing Research Center, Berkeley, CA, USA. A strong motivation for Deniz has been to improve hearing devices for children and adults with hearing loss and hearing devices, and to contribute to their quality of life. Deniz feels passionate about everything related to auditory perception and cognition, its development, its impairments, and its rehabilitation. For the latter, Deniz is exploring a range of approaches, ranging from music training to robots.
Emotions are an important part of human communication and the communication of emotions is considered to be important for healthy development in children. In speech, emotions are cued in words (lexical content) as well as in intonations (prosodic content). For children with hearing loss, it may be difficult to perceive the emotion prosodic cues. Yet, it has been challenging to quantify this difficulty, mostly due to the lack of standardized clinical tests for emotion recognition. In recent research, tests that rely on prosodic cues only, and no lexical content, have indicated that even in children with normal hearing perception of vocal emotions takes many years to develop and reach adult-like levels. We now use similar tests to tease apart and quantify how vocal emotion perception is affected in children by hearing loss and age. Our initial results indicate a large variability in children with hearing aids and cochlear implants, with some children with hearing loss performing similarly to their normal-hearing age peers while some others not. Our research now continues with exploring the potential factors that contribute to the large variability in vocal emotion perception in children.