Researchers exploring the ways in which our brains respond to hearing loss have found that the brain reorganizes, which may be related to a link between age-related hearing loss and dementia. According to a presentation at the 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) being held May 18-22 in Pittsburgh, Pa, researchers from the University of Colorado suggest that the portion of the brain devoted to hearing can become reorganized—reassigned to other functions—even with early-stage hearing loss, and may play a role in cognitive decline.
According to a recent ASA announcement, Anu Sharma, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science at University of Colorado, applied fundamental principles of neuroplasticity to determine how the brain adapts to hearing loss, as well as the consequences of those changes.
Sharma and colleagues in the Brain and Behavior Laboratory used electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of adults and children with deafness and lesser hearing loss to gain insights into the ways their brains respond differently from those of people with normal hearing.
Adults with early-stage age-related hearing loss (right) show decreased activation of the hearing portion of the brain compared with normal hearing age-matched adults (left).
Sharma explained via the ASA announcement that EEG recordings involve placing multiple tiny sensors on the scalp, which allows researchers to measure brain activity in response to sound simulation. For her study, sound simulation, such as recorded speech syllables, was delivered via speakers to elicit a response in the form of “brain waves” that originate in the auditory cortex—the most important center for processing speech and language—and other areas of the brain.
Adults with mild age-related hearing loss (right) show brain reorganization in hearing portions of brain, which are recruited for processing visual patterns. This is not seen in age-matched adults with normal hearing (left).
“We can examine certain biomarkers of cortical functioning, which tell us how the hearing portion of a deaf person’s brain is functioning compared to a person with normal hearing,” Sharma said.
ASA reports that Sharma and other researchers have recently discovered that the areas of the brain responsible for processing vision or touch can recruit areas in which hearing is normally processed, but which receive little or no stimulation in deafness. This is called “cross-modal” cortical reorganization and reflects a fundamental property of the brain to compensate in response to its environment.
- See more at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2015/05/researchers-discover-brain-reorganizes-hearing-loss/#sthash.UpMFY7oZ.dpuf
During the holidays some very challenging situations arise for my patients. Multiple speakers, rapid speech, and noise can inhibit understanding even with the best hearing aids. It isn't all bad news though, you can do some simple things to make these situations better for you.
First of all, make sure your guests know that it is always best to hold conversations with line of sight, which means that you can see the speaker's face while they are speaking. You can also scan your environment for potential trouble spots such as rooms with too many hard surfaces, or very large rooms that echo.
For restaurants, this can be especially challenging. You can do some things to help communication flowing. First look for soft surfaces, second never sit in the middle of the room, and look for booths with high backs. By taking a few preventative steps before you have problems, you can reduce auditory fatigue and improve your understanding of speech.
If you have hearing loss and have not made the leap to hearing aids, you can also try these things to help you understand speech better.
Happy Holidays from The Hearing Station.
Occasionally I try to make something yummy and tasty. I made this the other day and it was simply delicious!
2 Chicken breasts (I cooked them out on the grill, salt and pepper)
1/4 C Raw Cashews
1 Bunch Green Onions
1/4 C Raisins (I used the ones from my back yard that I sun baked myself)
2-3 Shredded carrots (no need to peel them first, you can also slice them on a mandolin)
Mayonaise (Best Foods just enough to combine 2-3T)
1 Head of Iceburg Lettuce (you need whole leaves to wrap your Chix Salad in)
Combine all but the lettuce stir, you can add any veggies you like... mix and taste for additional salt or pepper, or even granulated garlic. Let stand 15 minutes.
Wrap salad in lettuce leaves and enjoy.
Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study Release Date: 02/14/2011 Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing, a study by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers suggests. The findings, the researchers say, could lead to new ways to combat dementia, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and carries heavy societal burdens.
Although the reason for the link between the two conditions is unknown, the investigators suggest that a common pathology may underlie both or that the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia. They also speculate that hearing loss could lead to dementia by making individuals more socially isolated, a known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders.
Whatever the cause, the scientists report, their finding may offer a starting point for interventions — even as simple as hearing aids — that could delay or prevent dementia by improving patients’ hearing.
“Researchers have looked at what affects hearing loss, but few have looked at how hearing loss affects cognitive brain function,” says study leader Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Otology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “There hasn’t been much crosstalk between otologists and geriatricians, so it’s been unclear whether hearing loss and dementia are related.”
To make the connection, Lin and his colleagues used data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA). The BLSA, initiated by the National Institute on Aging in 1958, has tracked various health factors in thousands of men and women over decades.
The new study, published in the February Archives of Neurology, focused on 639 people whose hearing and cognitive abilities were tested as part of the BLSA between 1990 and 1994. While about a quarter of the volunteers had some hearing loss at the start of the study, none had dementia.
These volunteers were then closely followed with repeat examinations every one to two years, and by 2008, 58 of them had developed dementia. The researchers found that study participants with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were significantly more likely to develop dementia by the end. Compared with volunteers with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss had twofold, threefold, and fivefold, respectively, the risk of developing dementia over time. The more hearing loss they had, the higher their likelihood of developing the memory-robbing disease.
Even after the researchers took into account other factors that are associated with risk of dementia, including diabetes, high blood pressure, age, sex and race, Lin explains, hearing loss and dementia were still strongly connected.
“A lot of people ignore hearing loss because it’s such a slow and insidious process as we age,” Lin says. “Even if people feel as if they are not affected, we’re showing that it may well be a more serious problem .”
The research was supported by the intramural research program of the National Institute on Aging.
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Release Date: 01/23/2013 Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal, according to a new study by hearing experts at Johns Hopkins.
In the study, volunteers with hearing loss, undergoing repeated cognition tests over six years, had cognitive abilities that declined some 30 percent to 40 percent faster than in those whose hearing was normal. Levels of declining brain function were directly related to the amount of hearing loss, the researchers say. On average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.
The findings, to be reported in the JAMA Internal Medicine online Jan. 21, are among the first to emerge from a larger, ongoing study monitoring the health of older blacks and whites in Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh, Pa. Known as the Health, Aging and Body Composition, or Health ABC study, the latest report on older adults involved a subset of 1,984 men and women between the ages of 75 and 84, and is believed to be the first to gauge the impact of hearing loss on higher brain functions over the long term. According to senior study investigator and Johns Hopkins otologist and epidemiologist Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., all study participants had normal brain function when the study began in 2001, and were initially tested for hearing loss, which hearing specialists define as recognizing only those sounds louder than 25 decibels.
"Our results show that hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging, because it may come with some serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning," says Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"Our findings emphasize just how important it is for physicians to discuss hearing with their patients and to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time," says Lin. He estimates that as many as 27 million Americans over age 50, including two-thirds of men and women aged 70 years and older, suffer from some form of hearing loss.
More worrisome, he says, only 15 percent of those who need a hearing aid get one, leaving much of the problem and its consequences untreated.
Possible explanations for the cognitive slide, Lin says, include the ties between hearing loss and social isolation, with loneliness being well established in previous research as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Degraded hearing may also force the brain to devote too much of its energy to processing sound, and at the expense of energy spent on memory and thinking. He adds there may also be some common, underlying damage that leads to both hearing and cognitive problems.
Lin and his team already have plans under way to launch a much larger study to determine if use of hearing aids or other devices to treat hearing loss in older adults might forestall or delay cognitive decline.
In the latest study, which began in 1997, all participants were in good general physical health at the time. Hearing tests were given to volunteers in 2001, during which they individually listened to a range of soft and loud sounds, from 0 decibels to 100 decibels, in a soundproof room.
Brain functioning was also assessed in 2001, using two well-recognized tests of memory and thinking ability, known as the Modified Mini-Mental State (3MS) and Digit Symbol Substitution (DSS), respectively. Included in the 3MS test, study participants were asked to memorize words, given commands or instructional tasks to follow, and asked basic questions as to the correct year, date and time. In the DSS test, study participants were asked to match specific numbers to symbols and timed on how long it took them to complete the task.
Both types of tests were repeated for each study participant three more times until the study ended in 2007, to gauge cognitive decline. Factors already known to contribute to loss of brain function were accounted for in the researchers' analysis, including age, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
Funding support for this study and the Health ABC study was provided by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Corresponding grant numbers are N01-AG62101, N01-AG62103, N01-AG62106, R01-AG028050, R01-NR012459, P30-AG02133 and K34-DC0111279. Additional research support was provided by the Eleanor Schwartz Charitable Foundation and a Triological Society and American College of Surgeons Clinician-Scientist Award.
In addition to Lin, other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in this study were Jin Xia, M.S., and Qian-Li Xue, Ph.D. Other study co-investigators included Kristine Yaffe, M.D., and Hilsa Ayonayon, Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco; Tamara Harris, M.D., M.S., Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., and Eleanor Simonsick, Ph.D., at the National Institute on Aging, in Baltimore; Elizabeth Purchase-Helzner, Ph.D., at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn; and Suzanne Satterfield, M.D., Dr.PH., at the University of Tennessee, in Memphis.
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Every THIRD Sunday of every month we hold a breakfast for Disabled American Veterans at the DAV Hall Chapter 73. The hall is located at, 6543 Corbin Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367, (818) 340-0444 (Between Victory and Vanowen)
The menu varies, but it typically includes choice of meat, eggs any style, country biscuits and gravy, toast, coffee, and pancakes. All this for only $6, all proceeds benefit veterans and the DAVA (Disabled American Veterans Axillary)