The Use of the Gaps-In-Noise Test as an Index of the Enhanced Left Temporal Cortical Thinning Associated with the Transition between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer‘s Disease

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Abstract

Background:

The known link between auditory perception and cognition is often overlooked when testing for cognition.

Purpose:

To evaluate auditory perception in a group of older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Research Design:

A cross-sectional study of auditory perception.

Study Sample:

Adults with MCI and adults with no documented cognitive issues and matched hearing sensitivity and age.

Data collection:

Auditory perception was evaluated in both groups, assessing for hearing sensitivity, speech in babble (SinB), and temporal resolution.

Results:

Mann–Whitney test revealed significantly poorer scores for SinB and temporal resolution abilities of MCIs versus normal controls for both ears. The right-ear gap detection thresholds on the Gaps-In-Noise (GIN) Test clearly differentiated between the two groups (p < 0.001), with no overlap of values. The left ear results also differentiated the two groups (p < 0.01); however, there was a small degree of overlap ∼8-msec threshold values. With the exception of the left-ear inattentiveness index, which showed a similar distribution between groups, both impulsivity and inattentiveness indexes were higher for the MCIs compared to the control group.

Conclusions:

The results support central auditory processing evaluation in the elderly population as a promising tool to achieve earlier diagnosis of dementia, while identifying central auditory processing deficits that can contribute to communication deficits in the MCI patient population. A measure of temporal resolution (GIN) may offer an early, albeit indirect, measure reflecting left temporal cortical thinning associated with the transition between MCI and Alzheimer‘s disease.

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