Posted June 27, 2014
As people age, it’s natural for the brain to shrink. And for years, medical professionals have understood that the brain structure of those with hearing impairment is different from that of people with normal hearing. However, a new study indicates that this shrinkage may be accelerated in older people with hearing loss.
New research identifies hearing loss connection
In this new study, researchers at the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging analyzed brain changes of 126 participants over 10 years, as measured through MRI tests. At the beginning of the study, 75 had normal hearing and 51 had hearing impairment. The researchers discovered that participants with impaired hearing experienced more than a cubic centimeter of brain tissue loss each year in comparison to those participants with normal hearing. This tissue loss was documented in the superior, middle and inferior temporal gyri areas of the brain, where sounds and speech are processed.
Scientists note that the gyri sections of the brain also assist with memory and sensory integration and may be involved with the early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to researchers, these results demonstrate that medical professionals should be proactive in treating all hearing loss problems promptly, before changes in brain structure occur.
Recognizing the vital information this study has provided, researchers plan next to study whether the early treatment of hearing loss may reduce the risk of other related health issues.
Learn more about hearing loss by reading Scientists Research Cures for Hearing Impairment.