A hearing loss can contribute to both linguistic and cognitive problems. We study the implications a hearing loss can have on an individual's communication skills and memory. Can the cognitive deterioration, for example, be prevented by the use of hearing aids. How important is age and eyesight. There is also a link between hearing loss and dementia. We want to find out the mechanisms behind these connections.
The important interplay between hearing, cognition and communication
This project aims for the first time in the area of audiology and cognitive hearing science to test a host of hearing, phonological, cognitive, speech-in-noise and speech understanding variables at the same time. A three-group design is used where one group consists of 200 hearing aid wearers, 200 hearing-impaired persons without hearing aids, and 200 normal hearing participants. Then we will be able to assess the effects of impairment and hearing aid use separately and related to cognition and communication variables. The study has started with most of the data collected for the first test occasion (6 hours of testing per person). The second occasion will come approximately 5 years late, the third another five years later etc. With this longitudinal design we can study how age and hearing impairment interact over time, if there is any protection against memory problems with the hearing aid, and finally, to come closer to see what factors determine long-term memory decline and eventually dementia.