The Dilemma of Central Presbycusis
By Dennis A. Colucci, AuD, MA
The brain’s ability to process sound into meaningful events is notably altered by aging and, especially, by hearing loss and cognition. The central degradation caused by peripheral hearing loss, independent of other influences, can result in memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Known determinants that delay cognitive changes include level of education, physical exercise, intellectual engagement, social networking, friendships, and a healthy diet. Remarkably, most of these factors are related to hearing acuity and auditory skills.
Recent investigations have shown that hearing loss is associated with a reduction in whole brain and regional volumes (Neuroimage 2014;90:84-92). After adjustment for other conditions, including cardiovascular risk, it was estimated that the brain’s aging is accelerated by 6.4 years in those with a speech-frequency pure-tone average greater than 25 dB.