Neuromodulatory Effects of Auditory Training and Hearing Aid Use on Audiovisual Speech Perception in Elderly Individuals.

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Frontiers in aging neuroscience, ISSN: 1663-4365, Vol: 9, Issue: FEB, Page: 30

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Yu, Luodi; Rao, Aparna; Zhang, Yang; Burton, Philip C.; Rishiq, Dania; Abrams, Harvey
Frontiers Media SA
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; Neuroscience
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article description
Although audiovisual (AV) training has been shown to improve overall speech perception in hearing-impaired listeners, there has been a lack of direct brain imaging data to help elucidate the neural networks and neural plasticity associated with hearing aid (HA) use and auditory training targeting speechreading. For this purpose, the current clinical case study reports functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from two hearing-impaired patients who were first-time HA users. During the study period, both patients used HAs for 8 weeks; only one received a training program named ReadMyQuips (RMQ) targeting speechreading during the second half of the study period for 4 weeks. Identical fMRI tests were administered at pre-fitting and at the end of the 8 weeks. Regions of interest (ROI) including auditory cortex and visual cortex for uni-sensory processing, and superior temporal sulcus (STS) for AV integration, were identified for each person through independent functional localizer task. The results showed experience-dependent changes involving ROIs of auditory cortex, STS and functional connectivity between uni-sensory ROIs and STS from pretest to posttest in both cases. These data provide initial evidence for the malleable experience-driven cortical functionality for AV speech perception in elderly hearing-impaired people and call for further studies with a much larger subject sample and systematic control to fill in the knowledge gap to understand brain plasticity associated with auditory rehabilitation in the aging population.