What is the relationship between hearing loss and cognition? What is known about hearing loss and cognitive performance? Is there a link between hearing loss and dementia? And, if so, what can audiologists, ENTs, and other hearing care professionals do about it?

These are the key questions addressed in a concise literature review and open-access paper by Douglas Beck, AuD, Sarah Bant, PhD, and Nathan Clarke, PhD(Cand), published in the May 14 edition of the Journal of Otolaryngology-ENT Research. Dr Beck is vice-chair of the Cognition in Hearing Special Interest Group (SIG) which is part of the British Society of Audiology (BSA) and tasked with exploring the relationship between hearing loss, amplification and cognitive ability and cognitive decline (he is also VP of Academic Sciences for Oticon and senior editor of clinical research for HR’s “Inside the Research” column).

The authors provide an overview of hearing loss and dementia, as well as the various ways researchers in this area measure hearing and cognition. From there they summarize answers for the questions posed above. Some interesting quotes from the review include:

• “Glick and Sharma reported Age Related Hearing Loss (ARHL) is associated with cognitive decline and functional and structural brain changes. They determined that multiple deficits were improved after 6 months of daily hearing aid use, providing striking evidence of compensatory cortical neuroplasticity. In particular they noted a reversal in cross-modal reorganization, as well as gains in speech perception and cognitive performance.”

• “…Seminal studies have shown that even for normal hearing individuals, a reduction in the signal-to-noise ratio can reduce a person’s memory for spoken words. These remarkable findings are particularly true for people with hearing loss, with similar experiments showing that adults with hearing loss perform more poorly compared to those without.

• “Pooled results [from a meta-analysis by Yuan et al, 2018] indicated the risk of cognitive impairment for those with moderate to severe hearing impairment (average PTA >40dB HL) was 29-57% greater than those with normal hearing.”

To read the full open-access paper in JOENTR, visit: https://medcraveonline.com/JOENTR/JOENTR-12-00459.pdf

Source: Beck DL, Bant S, Clarke NA. Hearing loss and cognition: A discussion for audiologist and hearing healthcare professionals. J Otolaryngol-ENT Res. 2020;12(3)[May 14].