Amount of Hearing Aid Use Impacts Neural Oscillatory Dynamics Underlying Verbal Working Memory Processing for Children with Hearing Loss

Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Elizabeth A. Walker, Jacob A. Eastman, Michaela R. Frenzel, Ryan W. McCreery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Children with hearing loss (CHL) may exhibit spoken language delays and may also experience deficits in other cognitive domains including working memory. Consistent hearing aid use (i.e., more than 10 hours per day) ameliorates these language delays; however, the impact of hearing aid intervention on the neural dynamics serving working memory remains unknown. The objective of this study was to examine the association between the amount of hearing aid use and neural oscillatory activity during verbal working memory processing in children with mild-to-severe hearing loss. Design: Twenty-three CHL between 8 and 15 years-old performed a letter-based Sternberg working memory task during magnetoencephalography (MEG). Guardians also completed a questionnaire describing the participants' daily hearing aid use. Each participant's MEG data was coregistered to their structural MRI, epoched, and transformed into the time-frequency domain using complex demodulation. Significant oscillatory responses corresponding to working memory encoding and maintenance were independently imaged using beamforming. Finally, these whole-brain source images were correlated with the total number of hours of weekly hearing aid use, controlling for degree of hearing loss. Results: During the encoding period, hearing aid use negatively correlated with alpha-beta oscillatory activity in the bilateral occipital cortices and right precentral gyrus. In the occipital cortices, this relationship suggested that with greater hearing aid use, there was a larger suppression of occipital activity (i.e., more negative relative to baseline). In the precentral gyrus, greater hearing aid use was related to less synchronous activity (i.e., less positive relative to baseline). During the maintenance period, hearing aid use significantly correlated with alpha activity in the right prefrontal cortex, such that with greater hearing aid use, there was less right prefrontal maintenance-related activity (i.e., less positive relative to baseline). Conclusions: This study is the first to investigate the impact of hearing aid use on the neural dynamics that underlie working memory function. These data show robust relationships between the amount of hearing aid use and phase-specific neural patterns during working memory encoding and maintenance after controlling for degree of hearing loss. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that wearing hearing aids for more than ∼8.5 hours/day may serve to normalize these neural patterns. This study also demonstrates the potential for neuroimaging to help determine the locus of variability in outcomes in CHL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-419
Number of pages12
JournalEar and hearing
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 20 2022

Keywords

  • Auditory experience
  • Cognitive development
  • Cognitive development
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Neurophysiology
  • Oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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