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Visual activity predicts auditory recovery from deafness after adult cochlear implantation

Modern cochlear implantation technologies allow deaf patients to understand auditory speech. In adults with post-lingual deafness, the high progress of speech recovery is observed during the first year after cochlear implantation, but there is a large range of variability in the level of cochlear implant outcomes and the temporal evolution of recovery. It has been proposed that when profoundly deaf subjects receive a cochlear implant, the visual cross-modal reorganization of the brain is deleterious for auditory speech recovery. We tested this hypothesis in post-lingually deaf adults by analysing whether brain activity shortly after implantation correlated with the level of auditory recovery 6 months later. Radiographic image of a cochlear implant in man Based on brain activity induced by a speech-processing task, we found strong positive correlations in areas outside the auditory cortex. The highest positive correlations were found in the occipital cortex involved in visual processing, as well as in the posterior-temporal cortex known for audio-visual integration. Based on the positive correlation of visual activity with auditory speech recovery, we suggest that visual modality may facilitate the perception of the word’s auditory counterpart in communicative situations. The link demonstrated between visual activity and auditory speech perception indicates that visuoauditory synergy is crucial for cross-modal plasticity and fostering speech-comprehension recovery in adult cochlear-implanted deaf patients.

CNRS press release

Strelnikov, K., J. Rouger, J. F. Démonet, S. Lagleyre, B. Fraysse, O. Deguine and P. Barone, 2013, Visual activity predicts auditory recovery from deafness after adult cochlear implantation. Brain

Mise à jour 29/10/2013