Blog Archives

Auditory Processing Theories of Language Disorders: Past, Present, and Future

Conclusion: Research on the role of auditory processing in communication disorders springs from a variety of theoretical perspectives and assumptions, and this variety, combined with controversies over the interpretation of research results, makes it difficult to draw clinical implications from the literature. Neurophysiological research methods are a promising route to better understanding of auditory processing. Progress in theory development and its clinical application is most likely to be made when researchers from different disciplines and theoretical perspectives communicate clearly and combine the strengths of their approaches.

from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools

Dysfunction of bulbar central pattern generator in ALS patients with dysphagia during sequential deglutition

The corticobulbar control of swallowing is insufficient in ALS, and the swallowing CPG cannot work very well to produce segmental muscle activation and sequential swallowing. CPG dysfunction can result in irregular and arhythmical sequential swallowing in ALS patients with bulbar plus pseudobulbar types.

The arhythmical SWS pattern can be considered as a kind of dysfunction of CPG in human ALS cases with dysphagia.

from Clinical Neurophysiology

The adaptive pattern of the auditory N1 peak revealed by standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography

The N1 peak in the late auditory evoked potential (LAEP) decreases in amplitude following stimulus repetition, displaying an adaptive pattern. The present study explored the functional neural substrates that may underlie the N1 adaptive pattern using standardized Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (sLORETA). Fourteen young normal hearing (NH) listeners participated in the study. Tone bursts (80 dB SPL) were binaurally presented via insert earphones in trains of ten; the inter-stimulus interval was 0.7 s and the inter-train interval was 15 s. Current source density analysis was performed for the N1 evoked by the 1st, 2nd and 10th stimuli (S1, S2 and S10) at three different timeframes that corresponded to the latency ranges of the N1 waveform subcomponents (70–100, 100–130 and 130–160 ms). The data showed that S1 activated broad regions in different cortical lobes and the activation was much smaller for S2 and S10. Response differences in the LAEP waveform and sLORETA were observed between S1 and S2, but not between the S2 and S10. The sLORETA comparison map between S1 and S2 response showed the activation was located in the parietal lobe for the 70–100 ms timeframe, the frontal and limbic lobes for the 100–130 ms timeframe, and the frontal lobe for the 130–160 ms timeframe. These sLORETA comparison results suggest a parieto-frontal network that might help to sensitize the brain to novel stimuli by filtering out repetitive and irrelevant stimuli. This study demonstrates that sLORETA may be useful for identifying generators of scalp-recorded event related potentials and for examining the physiological features of these generators. This technique could be especially useful for cortical source localization in individuals who cannot be examined with functional magnetic resonance imaging or magnetoencephalography (e.g., cochlear implant users).

from Brain Research

The effect of cognitive training on recall range and speed of information processing in the working memory of dyslexic and skilled readers

Research indicates that impairment of working memory may be one of the factors that impede the ability to read fluently and accurately. Although the capacity of working memory is traditionally considered to be constant, recent data point to a certain plasticity in the neural system that underlies working memory, which can be improved by training. We examined whether dyslexic readers’ recall span and speed of processing in working memory can be increased, enhancing the quality of their reading. Thirty five skilled readers and twenty six dyslexic readers were trained in working memory tasks and compared to control groups of fifteen skilled and fifteen dyslexic readers who complete a self-paced reading training regime. All subjects were trained over a six-week period. Reading and working memory indicators were collected before and after the two trainings. Brain activity using measures of event-related potential (ERP) were collected for the working memory training groups by using a working memory task (Sternberg task). Result indicated after working memory training the ability to store verbal and visual-spatial information in working memory increased, and decoding, reading rate and comprehension scores improved in both groups, although the gap between the dyslexic and the control groups in reading and working memory scores remained constant. The latency of the P300 component decreased and the amplitude increased in all participants following training. No training effect in any parameter was obtained in the self-paced reading training groups. These findings support the notion of plasticity in the neural system underlying working memory and point to the relationships between larger working memory capacity and enhancement of reading skills.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

Mechanisms Underlying Input-Specific Expression of Endocannabinoid-Mediated Synaptic Plasticity in the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus

A hallmark of brain organization is the integration of primary and modulatory pathways by principal neurons. Primary sensory inputs are usually not plastic, while modulatory inputs converging to the same principal neuron can be plastic. However, the mechanisms determining this input specific expression of synaptic plasticity remain unknown. We investigated this problem in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), where principal cells integrate primary auditory nerve input with plastic, parallel fiber input. Our previous DCN studies have shown that parallel fiber inputs exhibit short- and long-term plasticities mediated by endocannabinoid signaling. Here we show that auditory nerve inputs to principal cells do not show short- or long-term endocannabinoid-mediated synaptic plasticity. Electrophysiological and electron microscopy studies indicate that input specificity arises from selective expression of presynaptic cannabinoid (CB1) receptors in parallel fiber terminals, but not in auditory nerve terminals. However, pairing of parallel fiber activity with auditory nerve activity elicits plasticity in parallel fiber inputs, thus suggesting a role for synaptic plasticity in multisensory integration.

from Hearing Research

Brainstem auditory evoked potential with speech stimulus

CONCLUSION: based on the gathered data it can be observed that this potential works as a new tool for understanding the encoding of sound at the brainstem level.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

Mismatch Negativity and Adaptation Measures of the Late Auditory Evoked Potential in Cochlear Implant Users

A better understanding of the neural correlates of large variability in cochlear implant (CI) patients’ speech performance may allow us to find solutions to further improve CI benefits. The present study examined the mismatch negativity (MMN) and the adaptation of the late auditory evoked potential (LAEP) in 10 CI users. The speech syllable /da/ and 1-kHz tone burst were used to examine the LAEP adaptation. The amount of LAEP adaptation was calculated according to the averaged N1-P2 amplitude for the LAEPs evoked by the last 3 stimuli and the amplitude evoked by the first stimulus. For the MMN recordings, the standard stimulus (1-kHz tone) and the deviant stimulus (2-kHz tone) were presented in an oddball condition. Additionally, the deviants alone were presented in a control condition. The MMN was derived by subtracting the response to the deviants in the control condition from the oddball condition. Results showed that good CI performers displayed a more prominent LAEP adaptation than moderate-to-poor performers. Speech performance was significantly correlated to the amount of LAEP adaptation for the 1-kHz tone bursts. Good performers displayed large MMNs and moderate-to-poor performers had small or absent MMNs. The abnormal electrophysiological findings in moderate-to-poor performers suggest that long-term deafness may cause damage not only at the auditory cortical level, but also at the cognitive level.

from Hearing Research

Study of suppression effect in the brainstem auditory evoked potential*

the present study indicated increased latencies and reduced amplitudes of waves I, III and V with contralateral noise, when comparing the situations with and without noise. These results suggest a possible influence of the efferent auditory system on the response modulation of Brainstem auditory evoked potential when contralateral white noise is used.

from Pró-Fono

Clinical neurophysiology of visual and auditory processing in dyslexia: A review

Neurophysiological studies on children and adults with dyslexia provide a deeper understanding of how visual and auditory processing in dyslexia might relate to reading deficits. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of research findings in the last two decades on motion related and contrast sensitivity visual evoked potentials and on auditory event related potentials to basic tone and speech sound processing in dyslexia. These results are particularly relevant for three important theories about causality in dyslexia: the magnocellular deficit hypothesis, the temporal processing deficit hypothesis and the phonological deficit hypothesis. Support for magnocellular deficits in dyslexia are primarily provided from evidence for altered visual evoked potentials to rapidly moving stimuli presented at low contrasts. Consistently ERP findings revealed altered neurophysiological processes in individuals with dyslexia to speech stimuli, but evidence for deficits processing certain general acoustic information relevant for speech perception, such as frequency changes and temporal patterns, are also apparent.

from Clinical Neurophysiology

On the incrementality of pragmatic processing: An ERP investigation of informativeness and pragmatic abilities

In two event-related potential (ERP) experiments, we determined to what extent Grice’s maxim of informativeness as well as pragmatic ability contributes to the incremental build-up of sentence meaning, by examining the impact of underinformative versus informative scalar statements (e.g. “Some people have lungs/pets, and…”) on the N400 event-related potential (ERP), an electrophysiological index of semantic processing. In Experiment 1, only pragmatically skilled participants (as indexed by the Autism Quotient Communication subscale) showed a larger N400 to underinformative statements. In Experiment 2, this effect disappeared when the critical words were unfocused so that the local underinformativeness went unnoticed (e.g., “Some people have lungs that…”). Our results suggest that, while pragmatic scalar meaning can incrementally contribute to sentence comprehension, this contribution is dependent on contextual factors, whether these are derived from individual pragmatic abilities or the overall experimental context.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

Perceptual shift in bilingualism: Brain potentials reveal plasticity in pre-attentive colour perception

The validity of the linguistic relativity principle continues to stimulate vigorous debate and research. The debate has recently shifted from the behavioural investigation arena to a more biologically grounded field, in which tangible physiological evidence for language effects on perception can be obtained. Using brain potentials in a colour oddball detection task with Greek and English speakers, a recent study suggests that language effects may exist at early stages of perceptual integration [Thierry, G., Athanasopoulos, P., Wiggett, A., Dering, B., & Kuipers, J. (2009). Unconscious effects of language-specific terminology on pre-attentive colour perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 4567–4570]. In this paper, we test whether in Greek speakers exposure to a new cultural environment (UK) with contrasting colour terminology from their native language affects early perceptual processing as indexed by an electrophysiological correlate of visual detection of colour luminance. We also report semantic mapping of native colour terms and colour similarity judgements. Results reveal convergence of linguistic descriptions, cognitive processing, and early perception of colour in bilinguals. This result demonstrates for the first time substantial plasticity in early, pre-attentive colour perception and has important implications for the mechanisms that are involved in perceptual changes during the processes of language learning and acculturation.

from Cognition

Electrophysiological Indices of Discrimination of Long-Duration, Phonetically Similar Vowels in Children With Typical and Atypical Language Development

Conclusions: Increased vowel duration can improve discrimination in children with SLI. However, poor identification of these longer vowels by some children with SLI suggests a deficit in long-term phonological representations or accessing these representations.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

An electrophysiological contribution to the study of language lateralization and prognosis of aphasia

The study is aimed at identifying hemispheric language dominance in both the right-handed and left-handed participants. Eighteen right-handed and 18 left-handed young volunteers were invited to listen for 80 times to a 720 ms duration Italian word. Signals from 16 electrodes were averaged and displayed both as traces and maps. When the word was delivered to the participant, a positive component at 340 ms was recorded, following the N100–P200 complex. The potential was significantly lateralized to the left hemisphere in 50% of the right-handers. The left-handed group was less homogeneous. Six out of 18 participants (33%) had a right lateralization, six participants (33%) had the positive potential shifted to the left hemisphere. Finally, the remaining participants had a bilateral representation. The maps show that there are no two participants alike, independently of either sex or handedness. A 300 Hz tone of the same duration failed to evoke the P340. Results indicate the utility of event-related potentials in studying the language processing. The possibility to identify cortical localization permits a better prognosis of acquired aphasia. The method is relatively cheap and noninvasive. Application is suggested in those participants who are at risk of stroke or in patients to be submitted to a neurosurgical intervention nearby possible language areas.

from the International Journal of Rehabilitation Research

Frequency-specific and steady-state evoked auditory brainstem responses in pediatric audiology: case study

It is recommended that congenital hearing loss is identified as early as three months old. After the initial step of confirming the diagnosis, it is necessary to obtain accurate hearing thresholds, allowing an adequate selection, indication and regulation of hearing aids for these children. It is inserted, in this context, the Frequency-Specific Auditory Brainstem Responses (FSABR) and, more recently, the Auditory Steady-State Responses (ASSR). The aim of the present study was to describe the findings of the use of both techniques to estimate the auditory thresholds of a three-month-old infant with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss diagnosed using, as primary evaluation method, the click-evoked Auditory Brainstem Responses, with both air and bone stimuli conduction. Both techniques provided reliable findings for estimating auditory thresholds. The ASSR had an advantage regarding the duration of the evaluation.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Subcortical differentiation of stop consonants relates to reading and speech-in-noise perception

Children with reading impairments have deficits in phonological awareness, phonemic categorization, speech-in-noise perception, and psychophysical tasks such as frequency and temporal discrimination. Many of these children also exhibit abnormal encoding of speech stimuli in the auditory brainstem, even though responses to click stimuli are normal. In typically developing children the auditory brainstem response reflects acoustic differences between contrastive stop consonants. The current study investigated whether this subcortical differentiation of stop consonants was related to reading ability and speech-in-noise performance. Across a group of children with a wide range of reading ability, the subcortical differentiation of 3 speech stimuli ([ba], [da], [ga]) was found to be correlated with phonological awareness, reading, and speech-in-noise perception, with better performers exhibiting greater differences among responses to the 3 syllables. When subjects were categorized into terciles based on phonological awareness and speech-in-noise performance, the top-performing third in each grouping had greater subcortical differentiation than the bottom third. These results are consistent with the view that the neural processes underlying phonological awareness and speech-in-noise perception depend on reciprocal interactions between cognitive and perceptual processes.

from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America