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Dettaglio pubblicazione

2024, HEARING RESEARCH, Pages - (volume: 446)

Two are better than one: differences in cortical EEG patterns during auditory and visual verbal working memory processing between unilateral and bilateral cochlear implanted children (01a Articolo in rivista)

Inguscio BIANCA MARIA SERENA, Cartocci Giulia, Sciaraffa Nicolina, Nicastri Maria, Giallini Ilaria, Aricò Pietro, Greco Antonio, Babiloni Fabio, Mancini Patrizia

Despite the proven effectiveness of cochlear implant (CI) in the hearing restoration of deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) children, to date, extreme variability in verbal working memory (VWM) abilities is observed in both unilateral and bilateral CI user children (CIs). Although clinical experience has long observed deficits in this fundamental executive function in CIs, the cause to date is still unknown. Here, we have set out to investigate differences in brain functioning regarding the impact of monaural and binaural listening in CIs compared with normal hearing (NH) peers during a three-level difficulty n-back task undertaken in two sensory modalities (auditory and visual). The objective of this pioneering study was to identify electroencephalographic (EEG) marker pattern differences in visual and auditory VWM performances in CIs compared to NH peers and possible differences between unilateral cochlear implant (UCI) and bilateral cochlear implant (BCI) users. The main results revealed differences in theta and gamma EEG bands. Compared with hearing controls and BCIs, UCIs showed hypoactivation of theta in the frontal area during the most complex condition of the auditory task and a correlation of the same activation with VWM performance. Hypoactivation in theta was also observed, again for UCIs, in the left hemisphere when compared to BCIs and in the gamma band in UCIs compared to both BCIs and NHs. For the latter two, a correlation was found between left hemispheric gamma oscillation and performance in the audio task. These findings, discussed in the light of recent research, suggest that unilateral CI is deficient in supporting auditory VWM in DHH. At the same time, bilateral CI would allow the DHH child to approach the VWM benchmark for NH children. The present study suggests the possible effectiveness of EEG in supporting, through a targeted approach, the diagnosis and rehabilitation of VWM in DHH children.
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