Cerebral auditory plasticity and cochlear implants
Manrique M, Cervera-Paz FJ, Huarte A, Perez N, Molina M, García-Tapia R.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital and Medical School, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
Previous animal research and clinical experiences in humans suggest the existence of an auditory critical period in language acquisition. We review the literature and present the changes within the cochlear nuclei in bilaterally deafferentated adult non-human primates. We also present and analyse the results of 98 prelingually deaf children and teenagers who underwent a cochlear implantation at the University of Navarra. Patients received a Nucleus 22 or 24 multichannel cochlear implant (CI).
They were grouped in five categories according to their age at surgery. Performance is compared with a control group of 58 postlinguals. Only early-implanted prelingual children (before 6 years of age) achieved a complete open-set speech recognition, even with better performance than postlinguals.
These results clearly demonstrate the existence of a period of high neural auditory plasticity within the first 6 years of life. The introduction of auditory stimulation with a CI can not restore the loss of neural plasticity out of this period. Prelingual children under 6 years of age should receive a CI as soon as there is a reliable diagnosis of bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.
CITATION Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 1999 Oct 5;49 Suppl 1:S193-7