Peripheral hearing, central auditory processing (CAP) and cognition are all important for comprehension of speech and deteriorate with increased age. This study aimed to examine the relation between hearing impairment and cognitive impairment by assessing both peripheral hearing impairment and CAP ability.
Cognition was measured using the CogState Brief Battery (CSBB). Peripheral hearing was measured across eight frequencies (250 Hz-8000 Hz) using pure tone audiometry, and CAP was measured using the Listening in Spatialised Noise-Sentences test (LiSN-S) and the Dichotic Digits Test. Data were analysed using correlation and regression analyses.
Around 85 adults aged 60.33-83.08 years who attended the Melbourne Audiology clinic and had no previous diagnosis of dementia were included in the study.
A significant association was found between degree of peripheral hearing impairment and the cognitive skills of attention and executive function as measured by the CSBB. Additionally, CAP abilities as assessed using the LiSN-S test were significantly correlated with at least one cognitive measure.
This study adds to the knowledge that peripheral hearing and CAP ability both share an association with cognition, specifically identifying cognitive skills and measures of “hearing” that mediate this relationship.