An event-related brain potential study of auditory attention in cochlear implant users

Irina Schierholz*, Constanze Schönermark, Esther Ruigendijk, Andrej Kral, Bruno Kopp, Andreas Büchner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Cochlear implants (CIs) provide access to the auditory world for deaf individuals. We investigated whether CIs enforce attentional alterations of auditory cortical processing in post-lingually deafened CI users compared to normal-hearing (NH) controls. Methods: Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in 40 post-lingually deafened CI users and in a group of 40 NH controls using an auditory three-stimulus oddball task, which included frequent standard tones (Standards) and infrequent deviant tones (Targets), as well as infrequently occurring unique sounds (Novels). Participants were exposed twice to the three-stimulus oddball task, once under the instruction to ignore the stimuli (ignore condition), and once under the instruction to respond to infrequently occurring deviant tones (attend condition). Results: The allocation of attention to auditory oddball stimuli exerted stronger effects on N1 amplitudes at posterior electrodes in response to Standards and to Targets in CI users than in NH controls. Other ERP amplitudes showed similar attentional modulations in both groups (P2 in response to Standards, N2 in response to Targets and Novels, P3 in response to Targets). We also observed a statistical trend for an attenuated attentional modulation of Novelty P3 amplitudes in CI users compared to NH controls. Conclusions: ERP correlates of enhanced CI-mediated auditory attention are confined to the latency range of the auditory N1, suggesting that enhanced attentional modulation during auditory stimulus discrimination occurs primarily in associative auditory cortices of CI users. Significance: The present ERP data support the hypothesis of attentional alterations of auditory cortical processing in CI users. These findings may be of clinical relevance for the CI rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2290-2305
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory attention
  • Cochlear implant
  • Event-related potentials
  • N1
  • P3


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