Cross-Modal and Intra-Modal Characteristics of Visual Function and Speech Perception Performance in Postlingually Deafened, Cochlear Implant Users

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Evidence of visual-auditory cross-modal plasticity in deaf individuals has been widely reported. Superior visual abilities of deaf individuals have been shown to result in enhanced reactivity to visual events and/or enhanced peripheral spatial attention. The goal of this study was to investigate the association between visual-auditory cross-modal plasticity and speech perception in post-lingually deafened, adult cochlear implant (CI) users. Post-lingually deafened adults with CIs (N = 14) and a group of normal hearing, adult controls (N = 12) participated in this study. The CI participants were divided into a good performer group (good CI, N = 7) and a poor performer group (poor CI, N = 7) based on word recognition scores. Visual evoked potentials (VEP) were recorded from the temporal and occipital cortex to assess reactivity. Visual field (VF) testing was used to assess spatial attention and Goldmann perimetry measures were analyzed to identify differences across groups in the VF. The association of the amplitude of the P1 VEP response over the right temporal or occipital cortex among three groups (control, good CI, poor CI) was analyzed. In addition, the association between VF by different stimuli and word perception score was evaluated. The P1 VEP amplitude recorded from the right temporal cortex was larger in the group of poorly performing CI users than the group of good performers. The P1 amplitude recorded from electrodes near the occipital cortex was smaller for the poor performing group. P1 VEP amplitude in right temporal lobe was negatively correlated with speech perception outcomes for the CI participants (r = -0.736, P = 0.003). However, P1 VEP amplitude measures recorded from near the occipital cortex had a positive correlation with speech perception outcome in the CI participants (r = 0.775, P = 0.001). In VF analysis, CI users showed narrowed central VF (VF to low intensity stimuli). However, their far peripheral VF (VF to high intensity stimuli) was not different from the controls. In addition, the extent of their central VF was positively correlated with speech perception outcome (r = 0.669, P = 0.009). Persistent visual activation in right temporal cortex even after CI causes negative effect on outcome in post-lingual deaf adults. We interpret these results to suggest that insufficient intra-modal (visual) compensation by the occipital cortex may cause negative effects on outcome. Based on our results, it appears that a narrowed central VF could help identify CI users with poor outcomes with their device.
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PLOS ONE, v.11, no.2

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RIMS Journal Papers
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