Scientists Solve the Puzzle of The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Dementia

In Education

The connection between hearing loss and dementia has puzzled scientists for a long time. However, a recent study has revealed that it seems that when you experience hearing loss, your brain compensates by working harder to perceive sound. These changes in the brain are believed to play a role in the development of dementia.

Microstructural differences in temporal lobe and frontal cortex affect cognition

According to the recent study conducted in California, researchers used hearing tests and MRI scans to identify various brain regions affected by hearing loss. Findings indicate that the microstructural differences in the auditory areas of the temporal lobe and frontal cortex areas are responsible for speech and language processing.

Also researchers found that changes in the frontal cortex region were involved in executive functioning which is the ability to complete complex cognitive tasks like paying attention, multitasking and planning.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute senior investigator and  principal investigator Linda McEvoy said that hearing impairment may cause alterations in brain regions associated with sound processing and attention. The increased cognitive effort in comprehending sounds could result in brain changes, potentially elevating the risk of dementia.

The study conducted by McEvoy and her collaborators sought to understand the impact of hearing loss on the brain and its connection to dementia. Researchers conducted hearing tests and MRI scans on 130 individuals with hearing impairment and found that sensory deprivation and the increased cognitive effort required for hearing were associated with significant brain changes.

Early interventions can prevent cognitive strain

The findings highlight the importance of early interventions to reduce the cognitive strain of speech comprehension, such as using subtitles, live captioning, speech-to-text apps, hearing aids, and seeking quiet environments. These interventions can help protect the brain from developing dementia in the future.

Co-author of the study Emilie Reas emphasized the significance of safeguarding one’s hearing. Reas highlighted the importance of avoiding prolonged exposure to loud noises, using hearing protection when using loud tools, and minimizing the use of ototoxic medications. These measures can help prevent hearing loss and preserve overall auditory health.

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