Diffusion tensor imaging reveals white matter microstructure correlations with auditory processing ability.

Department of Radiology, Pediatric Neuroimaging Research Consortium, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.
Ear and hearing (Impact Factor: 2.06). 11/2010; 32(2):156-67. DOI: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e3181f7a481
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Correlation of white matter microstructure with various cognitive processing tasks and with overall intelligence has been previously demonstrated. We investigate the correlation of white matter microstructure with various higher-order auditory processing tasks, including interpretation of speech-in-noise, recognition of low-pass frequency filtered words, and interpretation of time-compressed sentences at two different values of compression. These tests are typically used to diagnose auditory processing disorder (APD) in children. Our hypothesis is that correlations between white matter microstructure in tracts connecting the temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes, as well as callosal pathways, will be seen. Previous functional imaging studies have shown correlations between activation in temporal, frontal, and parietal regions from higher-order auditory processing tasks. In addition, we hypothesize that the regions displaying correlations will vary according to the task because each task uses a different set of skills.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were acquired from a cohort of 17 normal-hearing children aged 9 to 11 yrs. Fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of white matter fiber tract integrity and organization, was computed and correlated on a voxelwise basis with performance on the auditory processing tasks, controlling for age, sex, and full-scale IQ.
Divergent correlations of white matter FA depending on the particular auditory processing task were found. Positive correlations were found between FA and speech-in-noise in white matter adjoining prefrontal areas and between FA and filtered words in the corpus callosum. Regions exhibiting correlations with time-compressed sentences varied depending on the degree of compression: the greater degree of compression (with the greatest difficulty) resulted in correlations in white matter adjoining prefrontal (dorsal and ventral), whereas the smaller degree of compression (with less difficulty) resulted in correlations in white matter adjoining audiovisual association areas and the posterior cingulate. Only the time-compressed sentences with the lowest degree of compression resulted in positive correlations in the centrum semiovale; all the other tasks resulted in negative correlations.
The dependence of performance on higher-order auditory processing tasks on brain anatomical connectivity was seen in normal-hearing children aged 9 to 11 yrs. Results support a previously hypothesized dual-stream (dorsal and ventral) model of auditory processing, and that higher-order processing tasks rely less on the dorsal stream related to articulatory networks and more on the ventral stream related to semantic comprehension. Results also show that the regions correlating with auditory processing vary according to the specific task, indicating that the neurological bases for the various tests used to diagnose APD in children may be partially independent.

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    Seminars in Hearing 01/2014; 35(01):051-064. DOI:10.1055/s-0033-1363524
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    ABSTRACT: IntroductionThe purpose of the present study was to identify biomarkers of listening difficulties by investigating white matter microstructure in children suspected of auditory processing disorder (APD) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Behavioral studies have suggested that impaired cognitive and/or attention abilities rather than a pure sensory processing deficit underlie listening difficulties and auditory processing disorder (APD) in children. However, the neural signature of listening difficulties has not been investigated.Methods Twelve children with listening difficulties and atypical left ear advantage (LEA) in dichotic listening and twelve age- and gender-matched typically developing children with typical right ear advantage (REA) were tested. Using voxel-based analysis, fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean, axial and radial diffusivity (MD, AD, RD) maps were computed and contrasted between the groups.ResultsListening difficulties were associated with altered white matter microstructure, reflected by decreased FA in frontal multifocal white matter regions centered in prefrontal cortex bilaterally and left anterior cingulate. Increased RD and decreased AD accounted for the decreased FA, suggesting delayed myelination in frontal white matter tracts and disrupted fiber organization in the LEA group. Furthermore, listening difficulties were associated with increased MD (with increase in both RD and AD) in the posterior limb of the internal capsule (sublenticular part) at the auditory radiations where auditory input is transmitted between the thalamus and the auditory cortex.Conclusions Our results provide direct evidence that listening difficulties in children are associated with altered white matter microstructure and that both sensory and supramodal deficits underlie the differences between the groups.
    05/2014; 4(4). DOI:10.1002/brb3.237
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    ABSTRACT: Some children referred to audiology and developmental disability services have listening difficulties, despite normal audiograms. These children may be tested for 'auditory processing disorder' (APD), a controversial construct suggesting that neural dysfunction in the central auditory system leads to impaired auditory perception. An important question, not currently tested in clinical evaluation, is whether listening difficulties result from problems with bottom-up auditory sensory processing or top-down modulating cognition. Perceptual variability and poor performance on standardized tests suggests listening difficulties are primarily cognitive in origin. However, evidence for impaired olivocochlear function and temporal processing deficits may implicate peripheral or central auditory dysfunction in some cases. Wide-spread, top-down modulation of auditory cortical, brainstem and ear function suggests that afferent and efferent control systems may not be simple to segregate. During normal maturation, hearing appears to develop in proportion to the complexity of both stimuli and tasks. But some younger individuals have mature hearing, highlighting individual differences that suggest APD may be due to a generalized developmental delay. Recent studies have investigated specific hypotheses showing, for example, that spatial hearing and executive function are compromised in some children with listening difficulties. Using speech stimuli (e.g. consonant-vowel syllables) to examine auditory brainstem responses, and psychophysiological relations between dichotic hearing and cortical physiology, various effects of auditory experience and development point the way to promising approaches for further studies of APD. Newer technology, from genetic sequencing to MRI, may have the sensitivity to test whether and how frequently APD is associated with impaired processing in the auditory system.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 07/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2014.07.006 · 3.05 Impact Factor

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