A Preliminary Study Investigating the Association Between Hearing Acuity and a Screening Cognitive Tool

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Abstract

Objectives:

Studies in cognitive aging demonstrated inconsistent association between hearing and cognition in older adults. Furthermore, it is still unclear if hearing loss at high frequencies, which is the earliest to be affected, is associated with cognitive functioning. This study aimed to determine the association between global cognitive status and pure tone average (PTA) at 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz (PTA low) and PTA at 4 and 8 kHz (PTA high).

Methods:

This study involved 307 adults aged 60 years and older. Participants had their hearing and cognition measured using pure tone audiometry and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), respectively.

Results:

Pure tone average (low) accounted for significant but minimal amount of variance in measure of MMSE. Multiple regression analyses were also performed on normal and impaired hearing cohorts and cohorts with younger (60-69 years) and older (≥70 years) groups. The results revealed a significant relationship between PTA (low) and MMSE only in the younger age group. In contrast, no significant relationship was found between PTA (high) and cognition in any of the cohorts.

Conclusion:

Pure tone average (low) is significantly but minimally related to measure of general cognitive status. Similar relationship is not observed between high-frequency hearing and cognition. Further research using a more comprehensive cognitive test battery is needed to confirm the lack of association between high-frequency hearing and cognition.

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