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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