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AAIC 2023 | Hearing loss and dementia: peripheral vs central aspects

Dona Jayakody, PhD, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, discusses potential mechanisms underlying the established link between hearing loss and dementia. There are two types of hearing loss: peripheral and central. Peripheral hearing loss involves damage to cochlear hair cells, leading to reduced sensitivity to auditory input. While the connection between peripheral hearing loss and dementia has been established for some time, it is only recently that diminished central auditory processing has been identified as a precursor to a dementia diagnosis. Central auditory processing occurs in higher cortical regions and is necessary when there are various sources of auditory input, such as in a loud room. Age-related impairments to central auditory processing make it difficult for elderly patients to hear in social contexts, leading to social isolation, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. These are all risk factors for dementia. This could explain the role of hearing loss in dementia progression, although a causal mechanism remains unclear. This interview took place at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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