Visual Processing Recruits the Auditory Cortices in Prelingually Deaf Children and Influences Cochlear Implant Outcomes

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Although visual processing recruitment of the auditory cortices has been reported previously in prelingually deaf children who have a rapidly developing brain and no auditory processing, the visual processing recruitment of auditory cortices might be different in processing different visual stimuli and may affect cochlear implant (CI) outcomes.


Ten prelingually deaf children, 4 to 6 years old, were recruited for the study. Twenty prelingually deaf subjects, 4 to 6 years old with CIs for 1 year, were also recruited; 10 with well-performing CIs, 10 with poorly performing CIs. Ten age and sex-matched normal-hearing children were recruited as controls. Visual (“sound” photo [photograph with imaginative sound] and “nonsound” photo [photograph without imaginative sound]) evoked potentials were measured in all subjects. P1 at Oz and N1 at the bilateral temporal-frontal areas (FC3 and FC4) were compared.


N1 amplitudes were strongest in the deaf children, followed by those with poorly performing CIs, controls and those with well-performing CIs. There was no significant difference between controls and those with well-performing CIs. “Sound” photo stimuli evoked a stronger N1 than “nonsound” photo stimuli. Further analysis showed that only at FC4 in deaf subjects and those with poorly performing CIs were the N1 responses to “sound” photo stimuli stronger than those to “nonsound” photo stimuli. No significant difference was found for the FC3 and FC4 areas. No significant difference was found in N1 latencies and P1 amplitudes or latencies.


The results indicate enhanced visual recruitment of the auditory cortices in prelingually deaf children. Additionally, the decrement in visual recruitment of auditory cortices was related to good CI outcomes.

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