Purpose The aim of the study was to examine how the brain of individuals with Cochlear Implants (CI) responds to spoken language tasks that underlie successful language acquisition and processing.
Methods During functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) imaging hearing-impaired CI recipients (n = 10, mean age: 52.7 ± 17.3 years) and normal-hearing controls (n = 10, mean age: 50.6 ± 17.2 years) completed auditory tasks commonly used to investigate neurodevelopmental disorders of language and literacy: (i) phonological awareness and (ii) passage comprehension.
Results The two groups had similar reaction time and performance on experimental tasks, although CI participants had lower accuracy than controls. Overall, both CI recipients and controls exhibited similar patterns of brain activation during the tasks.
Conclusions The results demonstrate that CI recipients show an overall neurotypical pattern of activation during auditory language tasks during which individuals with neurodevelopmental language learning impairments, such as dyslexia, tend to show atypical brain activation. These findings suggest that advancements in fNIRS neuroimaging with CI recipients may help shed new light on how varying types of difficulties in language processing impact brain organization for language.