Delayed Auditory Brainstem Responses in Prelingually Deaf and Late-Implanted Cochlear Implant Users

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2015 Oct;16(5):669-78. doi: 10.1007/s10162-015-0532-x. Epub 2015 Jul 11.


Neurophysiological studies in animals and humans suggest that severe hearing loss during early development impairs the maturation of the auditory brainstem. To date, studies in humans have mainly focused on the neural activation of the auditory brainstem in children treated with a cochlear implant (CI), but little is known about the pattern of activation in adult CI users with early onset of deafness (prelingual, before the age of 2 years). In this study, we compare auditory brainstem activation in prelingually deaf and late-implanted adult CI users to that in postlingually deaf CI users. Electrically evoked auditory brainstem responses (eABRs) were recorded by monopolar stimulation, separately using a middle and an apical electrode of the CI. Comparison of the eABR latencies revealed that wave V was significantly delayed in the prelingually deaf CI users on both electrode locations. Accordingly, when the apical electrode was stimulated, the III-V interwave interval was significantly longer in the prelingually deaf group. These findings suggest a slower neural conduction in the auditory brainstem, probably caused by impairment of maturation during the long duration of severe hearing loss in infancy. Shorter wave V latencies, reflecting a more mature brainstem, appeared to be a predictor for better speech perception.

Keywords: auditory brainstem response; cochlear implant; deafness; hearing loss; humans; maturation; prelingual deaf.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Deafness / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Speech Perception