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Study: Hearing aids, by reducing cognitive load, can improve brain function in persons with hearing loss

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UTEP pro­fes­sor shows that hear­ing aids improve mem­o­ry, speech (press release):

A recent study by Jamie Des­jardins, Ph.D., 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 per­sons 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…Think about some­body who is still work­ing and they’re not wear­ing hear­ing aids and they are spend­ing so much of their brain­pow­er 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.”

Hear­ing loss affects more than 9 mil­lion Amer­i­cans over the age of 65 and 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans ages 45 to 64, but only about 20 per­cent of peo­ple who actu­al­ly need hear­ing aids wear them, Des­jardins said.

Study: The Effects of Hear­ing Aid Direc­tion­al Micro­phone and Noise Reduc­tion Pro­cess­ing on Lis­ten­ing Effort in Old­er Adults with Hear­ing Loss (Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Audi­ol­o­gy). From the abstract:

  • BACKGROUND: Old­er lis­ten­ers with hear­ing loss may exert more cog­ni­tive resources to main­tain a lev­el of lis­ten­ing per­for­mance sim­i­lar to that of younger lis­ten­ers with nor­mal hear­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this increase in cog­ni­tive load, which is often con­cep­tu­al­ized as increased lis­ten­ing effort, may come at the cost of cog­ni­tive pro­cess­ing resources that might oth­er­wise be avail­able for oth­er tasks.
  • PURPOSE: The pur­pose of this study was to eval­u­ate the inde­pen­dent and com­bined effects of a hear­ing aid direc­tion­al micro­phone and a noise reduc­tion (NR) algo­rithm on reduc­ing the lis­ten­ing effort old­er lis­ten­ers with hear­ing loss expend on a speech-in-noise task.
  • CONCLUSIONS: Direc­tion­al micro­phone pro­cess­ing effec­tive­ly reduced the cog­ni­tive load of lis­ten­ing to speech in back­ground noise. This is sig­nif­i­cant because it is like­ly that lis­ten­ers with hear­ing impair­ment will fre­quent­ly encounter noisy speech in their every­day com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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