Auditory experience modulates fronto-parietal theta activity serving fluid intelligence

Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Elizabeth A. Walker, Brittany K. Taylor, Sophia C. Menting, Jacob A. Eastman, Michaela R. Frenzel, Ryan W. McCreery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children who are hard of hearing are at risk for developmental language and academic delays compared with children with normal hearing. Some work suggests that high-order cognitive function, including fluid intelligence, may relate to language and academic outcomes in children with hearing loss, but findings in these studies have been mixed and to date, there have been no studies of the whole-brain neural dynamics serving fluid intelligence in the context of hearing loss. To this end, this study sought to identify the impact of hearing loss and subsequent hearing aid use on the neural dynamics serving abstract reasoning in children who are hard of hearing relative to children with normal hearing using magnetoencephalography. We found significant elevations in occipital and parietal theta activity during early stimulus evaluation in children who are hard of hearing relative to normal-hearing peers. In addition, we found that greater hearing aid use was significantly related to reduced activity throughout the fronto-parietal network. Notably, there were no differences in alpha dynamics between groups during later-stage processing nor did alpha activity correlate with hearing aid use. These cross-sectional data suggest that differences in auditory experience lead to widespread alterations in the neural dynamics serving initial stimulus processing in fluid intelligence in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfcac093
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Audiology
  • Hearing aids
  • Neurophysiology
  • Non-verbal cognition
  • Oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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