The vestibular system and cognition

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The last year has seen a great deal of new information published relating vestibular dysfunction to cognitive impairment in humans, especially in the elderly. The objective of this review is to summarize and critically evaluate this new evidence in the context of the previous literature.

Recent findings

This review will address the recent epidemiological/survey studies that link vestibular dysfunction with cognitive impairment in the elderly; recent clinical investigations into cognitive impairment in the context of vestibular dysfunction, both in the elderly and in the cases of otic capsule dehiscence and partial bilateral vestibulopathy; recent evidence that vestibular impairment is associated with hippocampal atrophy; and finally recent evidence relating to the hypothesis that vestibular dysfunction could be a risk factor for dementia.

Summary

The main implication of these recent studies is that vestibular dysfunction, possibly of any type, may result in cognitive impairment, and this could be especially so for the elderly. Such symptoms will need to be considered in the treatment of patients with vestibular disorders.

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