Neurobiological correlates of adaptation to spectrally degraded speech were investigated with fMRI before and after exposure to a portable real-time speech processor that implements an acoustic simulation model of a cochlear implant (CI). The speech processor, in conjunction with isolating insert earphones and a microphone to capture environment sounds, was worn by participants over a two week chronic exposure period. fMRI and behavioral speech comprehension testing were conducted before and after this two week period. After using the simulator each day for 2. h, participants significantly improved in word and sentence recognition scores. fMRI shows that these improvements came accompanied by changes in patterns of neuronal activation. In particular, we found additional recruitment of visual, motor, and working memory areas after the perceptual training period. These findings suggest that the human brain is able to adapt in a short period of time to a degraded auditory signal under a natural learning environment, and gives insight on how a CI might interact with the central nervous system. This paradigm can be furthered to investigate neural correlates of new rehabilitation, training, and signal processing strategies non-invasively in normal hearing listeners to improve CI patient outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience