UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


UCARE Research Products

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Gill, M., Bonitto, C., Heaton, B., Wang, Y. (April 2020). Brain Activation for Cochlear Implant Users: A Pilot fNIRS Study. Poster presentation for Annual UCARE Research Program, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


Copyright 2020 Makayla Gill, Ceceli Bonitto, Bailey Heaton, and Yingying Wang


Cochlear implants (CIs) have become a widespread device for individuals with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) to regain hearing ability and improve quality of life. However, the brain needs to adapt to this bionic device and relearn the function of hearing, especially for speech sounds. Because the auditory inputs through a CI are not the same as those heard by individuals with typical hearing, aural rehabilitation takes time. The goal of this study is to examine neural bases of speech perception in adult CI users using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Two adults with bilateral SNHL and CI(s) were fitted with a fNIRS cap and completed a speech listening task and a resting task. The speech listening task consisted of watching a video that rotated between blocks of audio and visual, visual only, audio only, backwards audio only, and a fixation period. Results focused on the difference maps of six contrasts to identify the brain responses to visual cues, auditory processing of speech sound, non-speech sound processing, and determining brain regions involved more in non-speech versus speech sounds. Our pilot study showed feasibility of fNIRS on studying brain activation in cochlear implant users during speech listening tasks, but we need to collect more fNIRS data to draw reliable conclusions.