A basic tenet of neuroplasticity is that the brain will re-organize following sensory deprivation. A better understanding of cortical neuroplasticity accompanying hearing loss may allow us to improve intervention and rehabilitation for patients with hearing loss. Compensation for the deleterious effects of hearing loss include recruitment of alternative brain networks during cortical processing. Our experiments suggest that early stage, mild-moderate, age-related hearing loss ranging results in significant changes in neural resource allocation, reflecting patterns of cross-modal compensation from the visual and somatosensory modalities, increased listening effort, and decreased cognitive spare capacity. Older adults with untreated age-related hearing loss also show evidence of cognitive deficits. Treatment with hearing aids reverse cross-modal recruitment of auditory cortex over the course of 6 months, coinciding with gains in auditory speech perception abilities, social-emotional processing and significant improvements in cognitive performance as measured by clinical tests of neurocognition.
Research Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Hearing Industry Research Consortium.
After this course, attendees will be able to:
- Describe cortical neurophysiological changes in age-related hearing loss
- Describe cognitive changes in age-related hearing loss
- Discuss the effects of early intervention with hearing aids on neurocognition