Hearing aids can improve brain function

February 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

hearing_brain

Hearing aids, by reducing cognitive load, can improve brain function in people with hearing loss.

A recent study by Jamie Desjardins, PhD, an assistant professor in the speech-language pathology program at The University of Texas at El Paso, found that hearing aids improve brain function in people with hearing loss.

Desjardins studied a group of individuals in their 50s and 60s with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had previously never used hearing aids. After two weeks of hearing aid use, tests revealed an increase in percent scores for recalling words in working memory and selective attention tests, and the processing speed at which participants selected the correct response was faster.

“Most people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime,” Desjardins said. “Think about somebody who is still working and they’re not wearing hearing aids and they are spending so much of their brain power just trying to focus on listening. They may not be able to perform their job as well. Or if they can, they’re exhausted because they are working so much harder. They are more tired at the end of the day and it’s a lot more taxing. It affects their quality of life.”

The prevalence of hearing loss among adults over 60 in New Zealand is about 15%.

Reference:

Desjardins, J.L., The effects of hearing aid directional microphone and noise reduction processing on listening effort in older adults with hearing loss. J Am Acad Audiol, 2016. 27(1): p. 29-41.

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