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


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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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