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Cross-modal plasticity and cochlear implants

Nature volume 409, pages 149150 (11 January 2001) | Download Citation



Hearing in profoundly deaf people can be helped by inserting an implant into the inner ear to stimulate the cochlear nerve. This also boosts the low metabolic activity of the auditory cortex1, the region of the brain normally used for hearing. Other sensory modalities, such as sign language2, can also activate the auditory cortex, a phenomenon known as cross-modal plasticity. Here we show that when metabolism in the auditory cortex of prelingually deaf children (whose hearing was lost before they learned to talk) has been restored by cross-modal plasticity, the auditory cortex can no longer respond to signals from a cochlear implant installed afterwards. Neural substrates in the auditory cortex might therefore be routed permanently to other cognitive processes in prelingually deaf patients.

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  1. *Departments of Nuclear Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine28 Yungun-Dong , Chongno-Gu, Seoul 110-799, Korea

    • Dong Soo Lee
    • , Jae Sung Lee
    • , Seok-Ki Kim
    • , June-Key Chung
    •  & Myung Chul Lee
  2. †Biomedical Engineering, Seoul National University College of Medicine28 Yungun-Dong, Chongno-Gu, Seoul 110-799, Korea

    • Jae Sung Lee
    •  & Jeung-Whoon Kim
  3. ‡Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine 28 Yungun-Dong, Chongno-Gu, Seoul 110-799 , Korea

    • Seung Ha Oh
    •  & Chong Sun Kim


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Correspondence to Dong Soo Lee.

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