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Brain. 2006 Dec;129(Pt 12):3376-83. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Cross-modal reorganization and speech perception in cochlear implant users.

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Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.


Recent work suggests that once the auditory cortex of deaf persons has been reorganized by cross-modal plasticity, it can no longer respond to signals from a cochlear implant (CI) installed subsequently. To further examine this issue, we compared the evoked potentials involved in the processing of visual stimuli between CI users and hearing controls. The stimuli were concentric circles replaced by a different overlapping shape, inducing a shape transformation, known to activate the ventral visual pathway in human adults. All CI users had their device implanted for >1 year, but obtained different levels of auditory performance following training to establish language comprehension. Seven of the 13 patients showed good capacities for speech recognition with the CI (good performers) while the six others demonstrated poor speech recognition abilities (poor performers). The evoked potentials of all patients showed larger amplitudes, with different distributions of scalp activations between the two groups. The poor performers exhibited broader, anteriorly distributed, high P2 amplitudes over the cortex whereas the good performers showed significantly higher P2 amplitudes over visual occipital areas. These results suggest the existence of a profound cross-modal reorganization in the poor performers and an intramodal reorganization in the good performers. We interpret these data on the basis of enhanced audiovisual coupling as the key to a long-term functional improvement in speech discrimination in CI users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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