Tirza and Yung-Ting both started their PhD projects first of September, 2016, in our lab. And both new PhD projects are focused on children with hearing impairments, albeit in different parts of the world.
Q: Why did you choose to come to work with Focus on Emotions team?
Tirza: Being trained as a Medical Doctor, I think it is really important to understand the social emotional development in hearing impaired children. These children are already one step behind, since they cannot communicate the way 90% of the population can. Imagine having difficulties understanding your friends emotions as you don’t speak the same language. Moreover, the collaboration between Psychology and Otorhinolaryngology of Leiden University Medical Center gives me a good perspective.
Yung-Ting: When I worked in a cochlear implant center in Taiwan, I realized that the studies and rehabilitation programs designed for deaf children with cochlear implants are mainly focused on language skills, while their social-emotional development is widely ignored. Deaf children’s communication difficulties could impair their social-emotional functioning, and social-emotional development affects self-concepts, behaviors and interpersonal relationships. The effect could be very long-term and profound in a child’s life. This motivated me to join the Focus on Emotions lab.
Q: What is your PhD project about? What do you expect to get from your PhD?
Tirza: My PhD project is about the long term outcomes of the neonatal hearing screening (NHS) on the social emotional development of hearing impaired children. Children who were initially tested with the NHS are now around 9 to 12 years old and at this age they are able to reflect on their own emotions and feelings. This is a follow-up study of the DECIBEL study and my supervisors are prof. dr. ir. Johan Frijns and prof. dr. Carolien Rieffe.
Yung-Ting: My PhD project focuses on emotion understanding in Mandarin-speaking children with cochlear implants. Both visual and vocal emotion processing will be examined to understand how cochlear implant children’s use of emotional cues and understanding of emotions are affected by their altered auditory experience. The project is supervised by Carolien Rieffe, Johan Frijns, Boya Li, and Mariska Kret.
Q: What do you want to achieve while working with the Focus on Emotion group? And in what perspective does it help you with your future career?
Tirza: I would like to become a critical reviewer and learn how important social emotional factors and quality of life is during the development of a child. This will help me, as a future medical specialist, using evidence based medicine to make decisions in difficult situations. I will apply my knowledge to commemorate the social emotional development in children who are hard of hearing.
Yung-Ting: My goal is to gain deeper insight into social-emotional functioning and development in clinical groups, hopefully not only in children with a cochlear implant but also in those who have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. The knowledge and skills that I learn during my PhD years will be a solid foundation for me to continue my research on hearing-impaired populations and help me find a way to improve the quality of life of deaf children in Taiwan.