Functional brain alterations following mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss in children.
Auditory deprivation in the form of deafness during development leads to lasting changes in central auditory system function. However, less is known about the effects of mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss (MMHL) during development. Here, we used a longitudinal design to examine late auditory evoked responses and mismatch responses to nonspeech and speech sounds for children with MMHL. At Time 1, younger children with MMHL (8-12 years; n = 23) showed age-appropriate mismatch negativities (MMNs) to sounds, but older children (12-16 years; n = 23) did not. Six years later, we re-tested a subset of the younger (now older) children with MMHL (n = 13). Children who had shown significant MMNs at Time 1 showed MMNs that were reduced and, for nonspeech, absent at Time 2. Our findings demonstrate that even a mild-to-moderate hearing loss during early-to-mid childhood can lead to changes in the neural processing of sounds in late childhood/adolescence.