The Role of Auditory Experience in the Neurocognitive Systems for Everyday and Effortful Listening
Current models of auditory cognition suggest that cognitive resources for processing degraded acoustic information are limited, creating a trade-off between effort and comprehension. Indeed, everyday listening frequently occurs under a wide range of inescapable suboptimal and adverse conditions, challenges which are exacerbated by reduced hearing acuity and the use of imperfect hearing amplification and prosthetic devices. In a cognitive neuroscience experiment using optical neuroimaging, we assess: (A) the effects of early-life sensitive windows on the neuroplasticity and stability of language processing networks in response to early-life, chronic exposure to acoustically degraded speech; and (B) the strength of the relationship between self-reported global health, subjective mental effort ratings, and neural activation patterns for different listening conditions. Advancing these scientific questions allows us to better understand of the complex nature of neuroplasticity and early-life sensitive windows for language processing, and ultimately informs us of the underlying cognitive mechanisms that play a role in spoken language outcomes for hearing aid and cochlear implant users. This work has profound implications for transformative translational impacts across several domains, such as educational practice and policy, aural (re)habilitation clinical practice approaches, and assessment of clinical health outcomes. Ultimately, this work will advance several scientific and societal questions regarding the role of deafness mediated by hearing technologies in certain cognitive functions, such as language processing and comprehension, effort, stress, and fatigue. These advancements could improve overall health and quality of life outcomes in those with hearing loss.