Scientists have long been studying the effect hearing loss has on cognitive decline. A study published last month put forward a new theory focused on memory centers located deep within the brain.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
This type of dementia affects memory, thinking and behavior. Experts estimate that Alzheimer’s disease makes up 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.
An early sign of this progressive condition is difficulty remembering newly learned information. As the disease progresses, severe symptoms will develop, including:
- Mood and behavior changes
- Increased confusion about time, events and place
- Unfounded suspicion
- Serious memory loss
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking
New Study Details
The study was completed by a team of researchers from Newcastle University in the UK.
There is consensus among experts that there are three possible ways that hearing loss could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease:
- A common underlying cause of both disorders
- A lack of sound-related input leading to brain shrinking
- More brain resources are required to compensate for hearing loss; these resources are then unavailable for other tasks
The study published in Neuron explores a new option focused on the memory center deep in the temporal love of the brain.
How the Memory Center Relates to Hearing Loss
The memory center is associated with long-term memory for places and events as well as short-term storage and manipulation of auditory information. The changes in brain activity caused by hearing loss may promote the presence of abnormal proteins, which can cause Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, research suggests that the memory system is the most common site for the onset of this disease.
According to Dr. Tim Griffiths from Newcastle University, “We suggest a new theory based on how we use what is generally considered to be the memory system in the brain when we have difficulty listening in real-world environments.”
Dr. Will Sedley explains, “We propose that altered activity in the memory system caused by hearing loss and the Alzheimer’s disease process trigger each other.”
While this is new study is promising, more research needs to be done in order to draw any conclusions. To learn more about the role hearing loss plays in cognitive decline or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Hearing Advancement Center today.