This preliminary study aimed (1) to assess longitudinal changes in electrically evoked auditory event-related potentials (eERPs) in children with auditory brainstem implants (ABIs) and (2) to explore whether these changes could be accounted for by maturation in the central auditory system of these patients.Design:
Study participants included 5 children (S1 to S5) with an ABI in the affected ear. The stimulus was a train of electrical pulses delivered to individual ABI electrodes via a research interface. For each subject, the eERP was repeatedly measured in multiple test sessions scheduled over up to 41 months after initial device activation. Longitudinal changes in eERPs recorded for each ABI electrode were evaluated using intraclass correlation tests for each subject.Results:
eERPs recorded in S1 showed notable morphological changes for five ABI electrodes over 41 months. In parallel, signs or symptoms of nonauditory stimulation elicited by these electrodes were observed or reported at 41 months. eERPs could not be observed in S2 after 9 months of ABI use but were recorded at 12 months after initial stimulation. Repeatable eERPs were recorded in S3 in the first 9 months. However, these responses were either absent or showed remarkable morphological changes at 30 months. Longitudinal changes in eERP waveform morphology recorded in S4 and S5 were also observed.Conclusions:
eERP responses in children with ABIs could change over a long period of time. Maturation of the central auditory system could not fully account for these observed changes. Children with ABIs need to be closely monitored for potential changes in auditory perception and unfavorable nonauditory sensations. Neuroimaging correlates are needed to better understand the emergence of nonauditory stimulation over time in these children.