Supporting observations of the brain, researchers have highlighted the link between hearing loss and an increased risk of dementia.
- According to this study, hearing loss can lead to changes in areas of the brain related to sound processing and attention, changes that increase the risk of dementia.
- More than 55 million people have dementia worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In 60 to 70% of cases, it is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Loss of hearing or hearing acuity affects more than 10% of the French population, according to Health Insurance.
Loss of hearing or hearing acuity, which affects more than 10% of the French population according toHealth Insurance, is known to be linked to an increased risk of dementia, but why? A new brain study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Diseasetells us more about the origins of such an association.
Hearing loss: hearing tests and brain MRI performed
As part of their work, researchers from the University of California at San Diego and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, in the United States, relied on the results of a study launched in 1972 and carried out on a cohort of 130 participants. All underwent hearing threshold tests during visits to research clinics between 2003 and 2005, then MRI scans between 2014 and 2016.
After analyzing their data, it appears that the volunteers who suffered from hearing problems presented microstructural differences in the auditory areas of the temporal lobe, in the areas of the frontal cortex involved in speech and language processing, as well as in the areas involved in executive function, we can read in a communicated.
Hearing loss associated with increased risk of dementia
“These findings suggest that hearing loss may lead to changes in areas of the brain related to sound processing [et dans celles] related to attention”, explains Professor Linda K. McEvoy, lead author of the study. She adds : “The extra effort required to try to understand sounds can produce changes in the brain that lead to an increased risk of dementia.”
“If so, interventions that help reduce the cognitive effort needed to understand speech – such as the use of captions on TV and movies, text-to-speech apps, hearing aids and visiting people in quiet environments instead of noisy spaces – could be key to protecting the brain and reducing the risk of dementia.”
As a reminder, since January 2021, in France, so-called first category hearing aids have been fully reimbursed by Health Insurance and complementary health insurance.