Relations Between Self-reported Executive Functioning and Speech Perception Skills in Adult Cochlear Implant Users

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Abstract

Hypothesis:

As a result of their hearing loss, adults with cochlear implants (CIs) would self-report poorer executive functioning (EF) skills than normal-hearing (NH) peers, and these EF skills would be associated with performance on speech recognition tasks.

Background:

EF refers to a group of high order neurocognitive skills responsible for behavioral and emotional regulation during goal-directed activity, and EF has been found to be poorer in children with CIs than their NH age-matched peers. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that neurocognitive skills, including some EF skills, contribute to the ability to recognize speech through a CI.

Methods:

Thirty postlingually deafened adults with CIs and 42 age-matched NH adults were enrolled. Participants and their spouses or significant others (informants) completed well-validated self-reports or informant-reports of EF, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Adult (BRIEF-A). CI users’ speech recognition skills were assessed in quiet using several measures of sentence recognition. NH peers were tested for recognition of noise-vocoded versions of the same speech stimuli.

Results:

CI users self-reported difficulty on EF tasks of shifting and task monitoring. In CI users, measures of speech recognition correlated with several self-reported EF skills.

Conclusion:

The present findings provide further evidence that neurocognitive factors, including specific EF skills, may decline in association with hearing loss, and that some of these EF skills contribute to speech processing under degraded listening conditions.

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