Hearing Loss in Children Can Lead to Change in How Brain Processes Sound
A University of Cambridge study
has shown that even mild to moderate hearing loss can lead to lasting changes
in how sounds are processed in the brain. The report published in eLife pointed
out that the auditory system of children developing hearing loss makes a
functional reorganisation, repurposing itself to respond more to visual
The researchers Dr Lorna Halliday of MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge used an eletroencephalogram (EEG) technique to measure the brain responses of 46 children who had been diagnosed with permanent-to-moderate hearing loss during childhood. Dividing the children into two groups -- younger children (8-12 years) and older children (12-16 years) -- the team found that the younger children with hearing loss showed relatively typical brain responses -- in other words, similar to those of children with normal hearing. However, the brain responses of older children with hearing loss were smaller than those of their normally hearing peers.
"Children with hearing problems tend to do less well than their peers in terms of language development and academic performance. Detecting even mild degrees of hearing impairment earlier could lead to earlier intervention that would limit these brain changes, and improve children's chances of developing normal language."