Genes influence age-related hearing loss

Nov 14, 2007

A new Brandeis University study of twins shows that genes play a significant role in the level of hearing loss that often appears in late middle age. The research, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, examined genetic and environmental factors affecting hearing loss in the frequency range of speech recognition.

“This research confirms the importance of genetic factors in age-associated hearing loss, and the need for vulnerable individuals and their families to take extra care to prevent further hearing damage,” said lead author Brandeis neuroscientist Arthur Wingfield.

The research suggests that middle-aged and older people with a genetic vulnerability to hearing loss should be particularly careful about environmental risk factors such as harmful noise and medications whose side-effects could be detrimental to hearing.

The study examined 179 identical and 150 fraternal male twin pairs, ranging in age from 52 to 60 years, as part of the Viet Nam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA). About two-thirds of the hearing loss in the individual subjects’ better ears could be accounted for by genetic factors. In the subjects’ poorer ears, about one-half of the hearing loss was due to genes, the study concluded.

Wingfield, an expert on the relationship between memory performance and hearing loss in older adults, said that even mild hearing loss can indirectly lead to declines in cognitive performance because intellectual energy normally reserved for higher-level comprehension must be directed toward perceptual effort for accurately hearing speech.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic disability among older adults after arthritis and hypertension.

Source: Brandeis University

Explore further: Genetic pre-disposition toward exercise and mental development may be linked

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Growth-factor gel shows promise as hearing-loss treatment

Nov 24, 2010

A new treatment has been developed for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), a condition that causes deafness in 40,000 Americans each year, usually in early middle-age. Researchers writing in the open access journal ...

Mating is the kiss of death for certain female worms

Dec 19, 2013

The presence of male sperm and seminal fluid causes female worms to shrivel and die after giving birth, Princeton University researchers reported this week in the journal Science. The demise of the female ...

Lake Erie: Warmest in summer, coldest in winter

Sep 17, 2013

When it's 20 below, Dr. Michael Twiss, professor at Clarkson University, has been known to clear the snow and lie down on the thick ice of a frozen lake and stare up at the Northern Lights. But for all his ...

Recommended for you

New therapy against rare gene defects

20 hours ago

On 15th April is the 1st International Pompe Disease Day, a campaign to raise awareness of this rare but severe gene defect. Pompe Disease is only one of more than 40 metabolic disorders that mainly affect children under ...

Splice variants reveal connections among autism genes

Apr 11, 2014

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has uncovered a new aspect of autism, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.