Proper and sufficient acoustic stimuli during the early years is of great importance for the development of the central auditory system function. As such, it is known that auditory deprivation in the form of deafness during development leads to lasting structural and functional changes in the auditory brain regions. They found that one of these changes entails cross-modal reorganisation, leading to increased responses to non-auditory (i.e. visual, somesthetic) sensory inputs in auditory brain areas.
Less is known about the effects of mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss (MMHL) during development. Recently, Calcus and colleagues found that even MMHL during early-to-mid childhood can can lead to changes in the neural processing of sounds. Interestingly, these changes only emerged in adolescence. These specific findings raise the questions whether children with MMHL also experience cross-modal reorganisation, and whether the timing of this reorganisation has anything to do with puberty.
To address these fascinating questions, I examine cross-modal reorganisation using EEG in a cohort of children and adolescents with congenital MMHL throughout their development, taking into account their audiological history and puberty stage.