Do you enjoy taking classes at Art Works of Vero? While it may be easy to follow along now, if you have hearing loss, it could make it difficult – especially because a recent study has linked a certain type of hearing loss with mild cognitive impairment.
About the Study
The research team, led by Rodolfo Sardone of the National Institute of Health and University of Bari in Italy, looked at two types of age-related hearing loss: peripheral and central. Peripheral hearing loss is related to the structures of the ear, while central hearing loss has to do with the brain’s inability to process sound. People with this type of hearing loss can hear sounds but not necessarily comprehend their meaning.
For the study, the researchers examined data from 1,604 people with an average age of 75 who were participants in the Great Age Study.
The participants underwent a series of both hearing and memory tests. Approximately 26% of the study participants had peripheral hearing loss, and 12% had central hearing loss. Thirty-three percent received a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This can also be broken down as follows:
- 60% of individuals with peripheral hearing loss or no hearing loss had MCI.
- 75% of individuals with central hearing loss had MCI.
In other words, people with central hearing loss were twice as likely to have MCI compared to those with normal hearing.
What This Means
According to the study authors, “These preliminary results suggest that central hearing loss may share the same progressive loss of functioning in brain cells that occurs in cognitive decline, rather than the sensory deprivation that happens with peripheral hearing loss.”
One hypothesis about this shared connection between central hearing loss and MCI is related to neurodegeneration, or loss/death of neurons in the brain, specifically in the auditory cortex, which is responsible for processing auditory input, and the temporal cortex, which is responsible for memory. The aging process can cause neurodegeneration in both.
The solution is to seek treatment for hearing loss. Early diagnosis and intervention are key to reducing the risk or delaying the diagnosis of dementia. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Aaron’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.