People with hearing impairment have an increased risk of incident all-cause dementia proportional to the severity of loss compared to those with normal hearing. Treating hearing impairment may therefore serve to slow or prevent the onset of cognitive decline. This article highlights the areas of ongoing research into this interesting area. A recent pilot study has suggested a dose-response relationship between the severity of hearing loss and cognitive decline, with an accelerated decline in memory tasks when hearing loss was more severe. The effects of cochlear implantation on neurocognitive performance in older adults has also been studied and have shown a significant improvement in cognitive test scoring after implantation, with reduction in frequency of self-reported depression. This preliminary data is encouraging. Might there be a role for counselling patients of the potential benefit of sound amplification on reduction of cognitive decline, particularly in challenging hearing environments? Furthermore, might there be a role for audiologists, in addition to audiologic assessment, to conduct a brief auditory-cognitive assessment by integrating a short cognitive screening test into their practice as additional baseline and outcome measures of treatment? 

Preventing cognitive decline: hearing interventions promising.
Weinstein B.
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Linnea Cheung

Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, UK.

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