No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Apr 2011

Hearing Loss Is Negatively Related to Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory but Not to Short-Term Memory


    To test the relationship between degree of hearing loss and different memory systems in hearing aid users.


    Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to study the relationship between auditory and visual acuity and different cognitive and memory functions in an age-hetereogenous subsample of 160 hearing aid users without dementia, drawn from the Swedish prospective cohort aging study known as Betula (L.-G. Nilsson et al., 1997).


    Hearing loss was selectively and negatively related to episodic and semantic long-term memory (LTM) but not short-term memory (STM) performance. This held true for both ears, even when age was accounted for. Visual acuity alone, or in combination with auditory acuity, did not contribute to any acceptable SEM solution.


    The overall relationships between hearing loss and memory systems were predicted by the ease of language understanding model (J. Rönnberg, 2003), but the exact mechanisms of episodic memory decline in hearing aid users (i.e., mismatch/disuse, attentional resources, or information degradation) remain open for further experiments. The hearing aid industry should strive to design signal processing algorithms that are cognition friendly.


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