Cognition in children with sensorineural hearing loss: etiologic considerations

Laryngoscope. 2007 Sep;117(9):1661-5. doi: 10.1097/MLG.0b013e3180ca7834.


Objectives: A considerable amount of literature has documented the impact of hearing impairment on spoken language skills in deaf children referred for cochlear implantation. Critical areas of neurocognitive development in the acquisition of visual (manual) language also appear to be impacted, although the evidence is less robust. The present study focused on the development of visual and fine motor skills in a sample of preschool-age children diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss with no known neurologic conditions (n=36).

Study design: Analysis of data collected as part of a standardized screening process for cochlear implantation at an academic medical center.

Method: Children underwent a standardized neuropsychological assessment battery. Children were classified into three groups based on the etiology of their deafness (Connexin=15, Structural Malformation=11, and Unknown=10).

Results/conclusions: Correlational analyses replicated previous research on the reduction in visual reception and fine motor skills as deaf children age. Children with genetic (Connexin) etiology exhibited a significant reduction in fine motor skills with age, whereas those with an etiology of Structural Abnormality exhibited a significant reduction in visual reception skills with age. Results of planned comparisons conducted as part of a multivariate analysis of variance (Skill x Group) indicated that the Connexin group was significantly better than the Unknown group with regard to fine motor skills. Implications for these findings and future studies are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cochlear Implantation
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / complications*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / surgery
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Patient Selection
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis
  • Perceptual Disorders / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception / physiology