Vincent Jerome Schmithorst1, Scott Kerry Holland1, Elena Plante2
1Radiology, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, United States; 2Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
An fMRI investigation of cross-modal plasticity (the recruitment of visual areas for auditory processing tasks) was conducted in normal-hearing children ages 7-11. Activation patterns from a narrow-band noise task were correlated with two audiological measures of performance on comprehension of degraded speech: speech-in-noise, and time-compressed sentences at 40% comprehension. For both audiologic tests, the visual cortex displayed a negative correlation with test performance, with positive activation present in the worst-performing children. Results indicate that cross-modal plasticity is present even in normal-hearing children and even for non-speech stimuli and that it negatively correlates with comprehension of degraded speech.