Hearing Loss May Cause Reassignment of Auditory Brain Areas Parts of the brain used for hearing may be reorganized starting at the early stages of hearing loss, new research finds. A team at the University of Colorado, led by Anu Sharma, observed that brain portions reassigned through neuroplasticity from auditory functions to other sensory areas, such as vision or ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   September 01, 2015
Hearing Loss May Cause Reassignment of Auditory Brain Areas
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Hearing Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   September 01, 2015
Hearing Loss May Cause Reassignment of Auditory Brain Areas
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.20092015.19
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.20092015.19
Parts of the brain used for hearing may be reorganized starting at the early stages of hearing loss, new research finds.
A team at the University of Colorado, led by Anu Sharma, observed that brain portions reassigned through neuroplasticity from auditory functions to other sensory areas, such as vision or touch, could explain the cognitive decline that is linked to hearing loss.
“This kind of compensatory adaptation may significantly decrease the brain’s available resources for processing sound and can affect a deaf patient’s ability to effectively perceive speech with their cochlear implants,” says Sharma, adding that the changes increase the overall load on aging adults’ brains. She presented her findings at the Acoustical Society of America’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh in May.
The researchers used electroencephalographic recordings of adults and children with deafness and less severe hearing loss to identify brain function in the auditory cortex—and other areas of the brain—when stimulated with sounds such as speech syllables.
They found the “cross-modal recruitment” of the hearing parts of the brain occurs not only in people who are deaf but also in those with mild hearing loss. Early screenings are important in aging adults, Sharma notes, to protect against increased cognitive load and decreased sound-processing resources in the brain.
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September 2015
Volume 20, Issue 9