Delayed access to bilateral input alters cortical organization in children with asymmetric hearing

Melissa Jane Polonenko, Blake Croll Papsin, Karen Ann Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Bilateral hearing in early development protects auditory cortices from reorganizing to prefer the better ear. Yet, such protection could be disrupted by mismatched bilateral input in children with asymmetric hearing who require electric stimulation of the auditory nerve from a cochlear implant in their deaf ear and amplified acoustic sound from a hearing aid in their better ear (bimodal hearing). Cortical responses to bimodal stimulation were measured by electroencephalography in 34 bimodal users and 16 age-matched peers with normal hearing, and compared with the same measures previously reported for 28 age-matched bilateral implant users. Both auditory cortices increasingly favoured the better ear with delay to implanting the deaf ear; the time course mirrored that occurring with delay to bilateral implantation in unilateral implant users. Preference for the implanted ear tended to occur with ongoing implant use when hearing was poor in the non-implanted ear. Speech perception deteriorated with longer deprivation and poorer access to high-frequencies. Thus, cortical preference develops in children with asymmetric hearing but can be avoided by early provision of balanced bimodal stimulation. Although electric and acoustic stimulation differ, these inputs can work sympathetically when used bilaterally given sufficient hearing in the non-implanted ear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-425
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research ( MOP-97924 to KAG and BCP, MFE-1748241 to MJP), The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute (Clinician-Scientist Training Program Studentship and Research Training Competition Award to MJP), and the Ontario Ministry of Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development with The University of Toronto (Ontario Graduate Doctoral Scholarship for MJP), and the University of Toronto (Studentship Funding for MJP).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Beamformer
  • Bimodal
  • Cortex
  • Deafness
  • Development
  • Electro-acoustic stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked potential
  • Evoked related potential
  • Hearing loss


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