This Ph.D. project focuses on cortical reorganization in new hearing aid and cochlear implant users. The human cortex is known to undergo substantial reorganization in response to altered sensory input. In individuals with sensory impairments such as hearing loss, brain areas deprived of sensory input will be recruited by other cortical areas. Recently, evidence has been accumulating that untreated hearing loss leads to brain structure and function changes that can influence speech understanding in noise. This raises the question of how hearing device treatment influences these effects.
Using multi-channel electroencephalography (EEG) measurements, this project will study changes in brain function in hard-of-hearing adults after treatment with either hearing aids (HA) or cochlear implants (CI). These changes in the participant groups (normal hearing, HA users, CI users) will be compared to behavioral measurements related to the ability to process speech signals. This way, new insights will be obtained concerning similarities and differences in cortical reorganization due to a hearing aid or cochlear implant provision and (mal)adaptive brain processes as reflected in the relation between cortical changes and measurements of speech understanding.