I AM A SONIC BOOMER, NOT A SENIOR... In this blog, I am writing to and for those who believe that the Boomers will change what the word Senior means. I also believe that Boomers will change what retirement means in our society. The blog is also for those who are interested in what life after retirement may look like for them. In this blog I highlight and write about issues that I believe to be important both for Seniors and working Boomers.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Hearing loss may accelerate atrophy
I recently got hearing
aids and I know find the world a lot nosier place than it was before
the purchase of my hearing aids. However, one of the many advantages of
being able to hear again is that my brain may not atrophy as fast.
Astudyby researchers from the Perelman
School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that declines in
hearing ability may accelerate grey mater atrophy in auditory areas
of the brain and increase the listening effort necessary for older adults to
successfully comprehend speech.
When a sense (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch) is altered, the
brain reorganizes and adjusts. In the case of poor hearers, researchers found
that the grey matter density of the auditory areas was lower in people with
decreased hearing ability, suggesting a link between hearing ability and brain
"As hearing ability declines with age, interventions such as
hearing aids should be considered not only to improve hearing but to preserve
the brain," said lead author Jonathan Peelle, PhD, research associate in
the Department of Neurology. "People hear differently, and those with even
moderate hearing loss may have to work harder to understand complex
In a pair of studies, researchers measured the relationship of
hearing acuity to the brain, first measuring the brain's response to
increasingly complex sentences, and then measuring cortical brain volume in
auditory cortex. Older adults (60-77 years of age) with normal hearing for
their age were evaluated to determine whether normal variations in hearing
ability impacted the structure or function of the network of areas in the brain
supporting speech comprehension.
The studies found that people with hearing loss showed less brain
activity on functional MRI scans when listening to complex sentences. Poorer
hearers also had less gray matter in the auditory cortex, suggesting that areas
of the brain related to auditory processing may show accelerated atrophy when
hearing ability declines.
In general, research suggests that hearing sensitivity has
cascading consequences for the neural processes supporting both perception and
cognition. Although the research was conducted in older adults, the findings
also have implications for younger adults, including those concerned about
listening to music at loud volumes. "Your hearing ability directly affects
how the brain processes sounds, including speech," says Dr. Peelle.
"Preserving your hearing doesn't only protect your ears, but also helps
your brain perform at its best."
The research appears in The Journal of Neuroscience and
was funded by the National Institutes of Health.