Cognitive and Neuro-plastic Impacts of Hearing Aid Use for Age-Related Hearing Loss
This study is a collaboration with Dr. Etienne de Villers-Sidani and Dr. Patrice Voss at McGill University in Montreal. The study has been sponsored by the Oticon Foundation to investigate neurofunctional and neurostructural markers that can provide evidence of the effect of short-term hearing aid intervention on cognitive decline.
Despite undeniable progress in the field of age-related cognitive decline and dementia, there is still currently no effective treatment. This situation is due to, at least in part, a poor understanding of the underlying causes. Although it is clear that the phenomena underlying cognitive decline and dementia are complex, there is, however, a growing body of evidence suggesting that degraded sensory inputs caused by age-related hearing loss (ARHL) may play a central role in accelerating cognitive decline in older individuals. For instance, it has been reported that for every 10 decibels in hearing loss, there is a 20 percent increase in the risk of developing dementia and that nearly a third of the risk in patients over 60 is associated with hearing loss (Lin et al, 2011a). However, it remains unclear how ARHL-induced neuroplastic changes contribute to cognitive decline.
What can we do?
This study aims to address this critical knowledge gap by investigating how the neurofunctional and neurostructural changes that occur following hearing loss contribute to cognitive decline using a comprehensive multimodal neuroimaging paradigm. Furthermore, given recent evidence showing that hearing aid use can reduce or prevent cognitive decline, we plan to assess how hearing aid use alters neurofunctional and neurostructural metrics identified following ARHL.