EEG rhythms lateralization patterns in children with unilateral hearing loss are different from the patterns of normal hearing controls during speech-in-noise listening

Giulia Cartocci, Alessandro Scorpecci, Gianluca Borghini, Anton Giulio Maglione, Bianca Maria Serena Inguscio, Sara Giannantonio, Andrea Giorgi, Paolo Malerba, Dario Rossi, Enrica Modica, Pietro Aricò, Gianluca Di Flumeri, Pasquale Marsella, Fabio Babiloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Unilateral hearing loss constitutes a field of growing interest in the scientific community. In fact, this kind of patients represent a unique and physiological way to investigate how neuroplasticity overcame unilateral deafferentation by implementing particular strategies that produce apparently next- to- normal hearing behavioural performances. This explains why such patients have been underinvestigated for a long time. Thanks to the availability of techniques able to study the cerebral activity underlying the mentioned behavioural outcomes, the aim of the present research was to elucidate whether different electroencephalographic (EEG)patterns occurred in unilateral hearing loss (UHL)children in comparison to normal hearing (NH)controls during speech-in-noise listening. Given the intrinsic lateralized nature of such patients, due to the unilateral side of hearing impairment, the experimental question was to assess whether this would reflect a different EEG pattern while performing a word in noise recognition task varying the direction of the noise source. Results showed a correlation between the period of deafness and the cortical activity asymmetry toward the hearing ear side in the frontal, parietal and occipital areas in all the experimental conditions. Concerning alpha and beta activity in the frontal and central areas highlighted that in the NH group, the lateralization was always left-sided during the Quiet condition, while it was right-sided in noise conditions; this evidence was not, however, detected also in the UHL group. In addition, focusing on the theta and alpha activity in the frontal areas (Broca area)during noise conditions, while the activity was always left-lateralized in the NH group, it was ipsilateral to the direction of the background noise in the UHL group, and of a weaker extent than in NH controls. Furthermore, in noise conditions, only the UHL group showed a higher theta activity in the temporal areas ipsilateral to the side where the background noise was directed to. Finally, in the case of bilateral noise (background noise and word signal both coming from the same two sources), the theta and alpha activity in the frontal areas (Broca area)was left-lateralized in the case of the NH group and lateralized towards the side of the better hearing ear in the case of the UHL group. Taken together, this evidence supports the establishment of a particular EEG pattern occurrence in UHL children taking place in the frontal (Broca area), temporal and parietal lobes, probably physiologically established in order to deal with different sound and noise source directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalHearing Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019



  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Deafness
  • Gamma
  • Theta
  • Word in noise recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems

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