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Cochlear Center

Cognition and Brain Aging

Epidemiologic research over the past several years has established the contribution of hearing loss to the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.

A conceptual framework developed by Center faculty members, Frank Lin and Marilyn Albert,  describes the mechanisms that may underpin these observed associations and serves as a guide for current research efforts.

Recently, a convened Lancet commission report on dementia  (July 2017) drawing primarily on work from Center researchers concluded that among all known risk factors for dementia, hearing loss is the single modifiable risk factor carrying the greatest population attributable risk, exceeding the risk conferred individually by hypertension and other factors.

The ongoing, large-scale, randomized, controlled trial called ACHIEVE  (Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders) is a first-in-kind, $16M study led by Center faculty that will definitively determine if treating hearing loss in older adults reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. This study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT03243422).

In parallel, concurrent research led by Center researchers Jennifer Deal and Nicole Armstrong  is actively focused on how hearing may affect brain structure and networks and investigating the role of hearing loss in accelerating risk of cognitive decline in conjunction with other risk factors.

 Conceptual model of hypothesized mechanistic pathways linking hearing loss with cognitive impairment and dementia in older adults.

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