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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 24;104(17):7295-300. Epub 2007 Apr 2.

Evidence that cochlear-implanted deaf patients are better multisensory integrators.

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1
Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Toulouse 3, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France.

Abstract

The cochlear implant (CI) is a neuroprosthesis that allows profoundly deaf patients to recover speech intelligibility. This recovery goes through long-term adaptative processes to build coherent percepts from the coarse information delivered by the implant. Here we analyzed the longitudinal postimplantation evolution of word recognition in a large sample of CI users in unisensory (visual or auditory) and bisensory (visuoauditory) conditions. We found that, despite considerable recovery of auditory performance during the first year postimplantation, CI patients maintain a much higher level of word recognition in speechreading conditions compared with normally hearing subjects, even several years after implantation. Consequently, we show that CI users present higher visuoauditory performance when compared with normally hearing subjects with similar auditory stimuli. This better performance is not only due to greater speechreading performance, but, most importantly, also due to a greater capacity to integrate visual input with the distorted speech signal. Our results suggest that these behavioral changes in CI users might be mediated by a reorganization of the cortical network involved in speech recognition that favors a more specific involvement of visual areas. Furthermore, they provide crucial indications to guide the rehabilitation of CI patients by using visually oriented therapeutic strategies.

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PMID:
17404220
PMCID:
PMC1855404
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0609419104
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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