This paper caught my eye because, with our ageing population, mild cognitive impairment and dementia are a major, growing problem. We know that ageing causes a multitude of medical and social issues. So it seems wise to investigate the effects of this condition on hearing, and especially speech audiometry in noise, since we know that presbyacusis is associated with a decrease in speech perception, and the elderly do not live in sound-proofed booths. In this Italian study, 48 subjects were enrolled, and all underwent pure tone audiometry and speech audiometry in noise. Speech signals consisted of 20 meaningful sentences in the Italian language. The authors acknowledge the limitations of their study, and conclude that their study confirms the hypothesis that patients with mild cognitive impairment have an age-related dysfunction of central processing, which could be related to the process leading to dementia. They go on to propose speech audiometry in noise as a useful and easy to access tool to identify patients with mild cognitive impairment, on the basis that early identification of patients with mild cognitive impairment may allow an earlier clinical approach. And whilst this might seem a little far-fetched, I think there’s definitely potential for some valuable future work on this topic.

Speech audiometry tests in noise are impaired in older patients with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study.
Aimoni C, Prosser S, Ciorba A, Menozzi L, Soavi C, Zuliani G.
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Emma Stapleton

Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK.

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