Auditory event-related potentials: a possible objective tool for evaluating auditory cognitive processing in older adults with cochlear implants
JHS 2012; 2(4): EA49-51
A wealth of research shows that aging adversely affects the morphology and physiology of the peripheral and central auditory system, resulting in a decline in auditory function. Moreover, age-related cognitive deficits in attention, working memory, and speed of information processing have been reported, augmenting the challenges involved in auditory rehabilitation of older adults.
With the growing number of older adults receiving cochlear implants (CIs) there is general consensus that substantial benefits can be gained. Nonetheless, variability in speech perception performance is high, and the relative contribution and interactions among peripheral, central auditory, and cognitive factors have not been fully delineated. A possible objective means for assessing the benefits derived from CIs in older adults involves electrophysiological measures. In particular, auditory event-related potentials (AERPs), which allow evaluation of the time-course of cortical information processing from early perceptual to later cognitive, post-perceptual stages, could prove advantageous.
In the current report our experience with AERPs elicited by perceptual and higher order cognitive tasks in normal hearing listeners and in CI recipients is reported, and their implications for the evaluation of older adults with CIs is discussed. By varying task complexity and degree of cognitive load, AERPs can expose processing difficulties of older adults with a CI and gauge the contribution of bottom-up versus top-down processing. The suggested comprehensive, hierarchical AERP evaluation may contribute to the better understanding of the neural manifestations of age-related auditory/cognitive decline and its interaction with CIs. It may also lead to the development of CI strategies and rehabilitation procedures tailored specifically to this unique group.
Keywords: cochlear implant, auditory event-related potentials, older adults