Cortical development, plasticity and re-organization in children with cochlear implants

Anu Sharma, Amy A. Nash, Michael Dorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


A basic tenet of developmental neurobiology is that certain areas of the cortex will re-organize, if appropriate stimulation is withheld for long periods. Stimulation must be delivered to a sensory system within a narrow window of time (a sensitive period) if that system is to develop normally. In this article, we will describe age cut-offs for a sensitive period for central auditory development in children who receive cochlear implants. We will review de-coupling and re-organization of cortical areas, which are presumed to underlie the end of the sensitive period in congenitally deaf humans and cats. Finally, we present two clinical cases which demonstrate the use of the P1 cortical auditory evoked potential as a biomarker for central auditory system development and re-organization in congenitally deaf children fitted with cochlear implants. Learning outcomes: Readers of this article should be able to (i) describe the importance of the sensitive period as it relates to development of central auditory pathways in children with cochlear implants; (ii) discuss the hypothesis of de-coupling of primary from higher-order auditory cortex as it relates to the end of the sensitive period; (iii) discuss cross-modal re-organization which may occur after long periods of auditory deprivation; and (iv) understand the use of the P1 response as a biomarker for development of central auditory pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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