Hearing Aids Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Elderly A new study supports a possible association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In the study, elderly patients who wore hearing aids significantly outperformed their counterparts who do not wear hearing aids in cognitive function tests, despite having more severe hearing loss. The research was conducted by Columbia University Medical ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   July 01, 2016
Hearing Aids Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Elderly
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Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   July 01, 2016
Hearing Aids Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Elderly
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21072016.15
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21072016.15
In the study, elderly patients who wore hearing aids significantly outperformed their counterparts who do not wear hearing aids in cognitive function tests, despite having more severe hearing loss. The research was conducted by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists, including first-listed author Z. Jason Qian, doctoral candidate in the school’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The researchers measured the degree of hearing loss in 100 participants—ages 80 to 99, 34 of whom were regular users of hearing aids—before evaluating their cognitive function through the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), which requires participants to verbally respond to commands.
Participants who did not wear hearing aids performed significantly worse (1.9 points less) on the MMSE than those who wore hearing aids, even though the latter group had more severe hearing loss. And within the non-user group, those with worse hearing performed more poorly than their peers with better hearing abilities.

In the study, elderly patients who wore hearing aids significantly outperformed their counterparts who do not wear hearing aids in cognitive function tests, despite having worse hearing loss.

“Our study suggests that using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication,” says co-author Anil K. Lalwani, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at CUMC. The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
The study also tested executive function through the Trail Making Test, Part B. Although hearing-aid users scored higher than non-users, the difference was not statistically significant.
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July 2016
Volume 21, Issue 7