Memory impairment associated with sound processing disorder

July 21, 2008

Mild memory impairment may be associated with central auditory processing dysfunction, or difficulty hearing in complex situations with competing noise, such as hearing a single conversation amid several other conversations, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

"Central auditory processing dysfunction is a general term that is applied to persons whose hearing in quiet settings is normal or near normal yet who have substantial hearing difficulty in the presence of auditory stressors such as competing noise and other difficult listening situations," the authors write as background information in the article. "Central auditory testing is important in evaluating individuals with hearing difficulty, because poor central auditory ability, per se, is not helped by amplification and requires alternative rehabilitation strategies." Previous studies have shown that central auditory processing is impaired in individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

George A. Gates, M.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues assessed 313 individuals (average age 80 years) participating in a dementia surveillance program that began in 1994. These included 17 individuals who had been diagnosed with dementia, 64 with mild memory impairment but without a dementia diagnosis and 232 controls without memory loss.

Participants completed three tests designed to gauge central auditory processing: one in which nonsense sentences are read over the background of an interesting narrative and two in which separate sentences or numbers are read into each ear simultaneously. "These central auditory processing test paradigms evaluate how well an individual manages competing signals, a task that requires adequate short-term memory and the ability to shift attention rapidly," the authors write.

Average scores on central auditory processing tests were significantly lower in the group with dementia and in the group with mild memory impairment than in the control group without memory problems. The association remained significant following adjustment for age and hearing status.

"Central auditory function was affected by even mild memory impairment," the authors write. "We recommend that central auditory testing be considered in the evaluation of older persons with hearing complaints as part of a comprehensive, individualized program to assist their needs in both the aural rehabilitative and the cognitive domains."

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Specialized neurons in emotional memory brain area play important role in fear

Related Stories

Musical aptitude relates to reading ability

October 17, 2011

Auditory working memory and attention, for example the ability to hear and then remember instructions while completing a task, are a necessary part of musical ability. But musical ability is also related to verbal memory ...

Neuroscientists pinpoint location of fear memory in amygdala

January 28, 2013

A rustle of undergrowth in the outback: it's a sound that might make an animal or person stop sharply and be still, in the anticipation of a predator. That "freezing" is part of the fear response, a reaction to a stimulus ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.