Change in Speech Perception and Auditory Evoked Potentials over Time after Unilateral Cochlear Implantation in Postlingually Deaf Adults

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Abstract

Speech perception varies widely across cochlear implant (CI) users and typically improves over time after implantation. There is also some evidence for improved auditory evoked potentials (shorter latencies, larger amplitudes) after implantation but few longitudinal studies have examined the relationship between behavioral and evoked potential measures after implantation in postlingually deaf adults. The relationship between speech perception and auditory evoked potentials was investigated in newly implanted cochlear implant users from the day of implant activation to 9 months postimplantation, on five occasions, in 10 adults age 27 to 57 years who had been bilaterally profoundly deaf for 1 to 30 years prior to receiving a unilateral CI24 cochlear implant. Changes over time in middle latency response (MLR), mismatch negativity, and obligatory cortical auditory evoked potentials and word and sentence speech perception scores were examined. Speech perception improved significantly over the 9-month period. MLRs varied and showed no consistent change over time. Three participants aged in their 50s had absent MLRs. The pattern of change in N1 amplitudes over the five visits varied across participants. P2 area increased significantly for 1,000- and 4,000-Hz tones but not for 250 Hz. The greatest change in P2 area occurred after 6 months of implant experience. Although there was a trend for mismatch negativity peak latency to reduce and width to increase after 3 months of implant experience, there was considerable variability and these changes were not significant. Only 60% of participants had a detectable mismatch initially; this increased to 100% at 9 months. The continued change in P2 area over the period evaluated, with a trend for greater change for right hemisphere recordings, is consistent with the pattern of incremental change in speech perception scores over time. MLR, N1, and mismatch negativity changes were inconsistent and hence P2 may be a more robust measure of auditory plasticity in adult implant recipients. P2 was still improving at 9 months postimplantation. Future studies should explore longitudinal changes over a longer period.

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