380 Hearing & Cognition

Written by Shannon Cantalupo

Does our ability to hear impact our thinking abilities? UC San Diego researchers wanted to determine if there is a connection between hearing impairment and cognitive decline in older adults.

They selected over 1100 individuals who had mild or moderate to severe hearing impairment and examined their cognitive functioning and hearing ability every four years from 1992 to 2016.

During each visit, they assessed the participants’ hearing and used a variety of cognitive and intellectual functioning measures to determine the presence, severity, and progression of cognitive impairment.

Results? Hearing impairment was associated with cognitive decline. Mild hearing impairment was associated with a larger decline among participants without a college education. Those with moderate/severe hearing impairments had a large decline regardless of education level.

Why are those with severe hearing impairment at risk for cognitive decline? Perhaps, they are cut off from learning through hearing from others, socializing, their surroundings, and media. Getting up to date hearing aids is essential.  If hearing impaired, use your mind in multiple ways—technology, courses, seek to enjoy life and other people through your all your senses.


Alattar, A. A., Bergstrom, J., Laughlin, G. A., Kritz-Silverstein, D., Richard, E. L., Reas, E. T., … McEvoy, L. A. (2019). Hearing impairment and cognitive decline in older, community-dwelling adults. Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 1-7.


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