The left inferior prefrontal cortex (LIPC) is involved in speech comprehension by people who hear normally. In contrast, functional brain mapping has not revealed incremental activity in this region when users of cochlear implants comprehend speech without silent repetition. Functional brain maps identify significant changes of activity by comparing an active brain state with a presumed baseline condition. It is possible that cochlear implant users recruited alternative neuronal resources to the task in previous studies, but, in principle, it is also possible that an aberrant baseline condition masked the functional increase. To distinguish between the two possibilities, we tested the hypothesis that activity in the LIPC characterizes high speech comprehension in postlingually deaf CI users. We measured cerebral blood flow changes with positron emission tomography (PET) in CI users who listened passively to a range of speech and non-speech stimuli. The pattern of activation varied with the stimulus in users with high speech comprehension, unlike users with low speech comprehension. The high-comprehension group increased the activity in prefrontal and temporal regions of the cerebral cortex and in the right cerebellum. In these subjects, single words and speech raised activity in the LIPC, as well as in left and right temporal regions, both anterior and posterior, known to be activated in speech recognition and complex phoneme analysis in normal hearing. In subjects with low speech comprehension, sites of increased activity were observed only in the temporal lobes. We conclude that increased activity in areas of the LIPC and right temporal lobe is involved in speech comprehension after cochlear implantation.
- Cochlear implants
- Left inferior prefrontal cortex
- Speech comprehension
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience