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Cochlear Implant and NeurocognitionLeft: "Adult with combined NIRS/EEG cap"; Right: "Infant with EEG cap”; Both pictures licensed under Copyright © by Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus Dresden

Cochlear Implant and Neurocognition

About 130 cochlear implant insertions are performed at our clinic each year. Subsequent (re)habilitation for the patients is provided by the Cochlear Implant Center (SCIC) and comprises lifelong care. This connection creates an ideal research environment for studying the neurocognitive processes underlying perception and understanding of music and speech with cochlear implants.

In a number of research projects, we are investigating language acquisition and its precursors in deaf children with early CI supply. How do these children successfully master language acquisition given that (1) the period of deafness hindered a favorable development of hearing and (2) they are additionally confronted with the challenge of a reduced auditory input transmitted through an implant? Does the development slow down or does it happen even faster due to more mature cognitive abilities? Are CI children able to catch up with their peers? Since these questions are not easily answered by observation methods in infant CI users, we use objective brain response measures like EEG/ERP and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study these research topics.

In further research projects, we focus on learning and adaptation processes that the adult brain has to perform when switching from acoustic to electric stimulation. What are the initial steps towards word recognition after first fitting of the audio processor? Which sub-processes may be different in sentence comprehension? Is music in adult CI users able to access the semantic network similar to normal hearing listeners? What about musical appreciation with CI? Again, we mainly use objective measurements (EEG/ERP; fNIRS) to answer these research questions.