Hearing loss also affects memory and cognition


Hearing loss also affects memory and cognition

“Hearing loss in just one ear, if not adequately corrected with a hearing aid, can reduce a person's reasoning and memory abilities as well as limit interpersonal exchanges.” This was stated by neuroscience Arianna Di Stadio, Professor at the University of Catania and Honorary Researcher at the neuroinflammation and movement disorders laboratory of UCL Queen Square Neurology in London , on the occasion of World Hearing Day which is celebrated on 3 March.

“It is well known how important talking to a person – even if they are not conscious – is for recovery; the voice heard is in fact able to keep some brain functions active and activate others, such as those of memories. In fact, hearing , more specifically the auditory area in the brain, is connected to both memory and language. This sense is fundamental in the development phase when we learn to speak, but also in adulthood given its close link with memory. ears, therefore, we don't just need to hear, but also to remember and speak”, explains Di Stadio.

Binaurality, or the ability to hear with both ears, is a fundamental function. When we lose our hearing, explains the expert, “the brain area responsible for it in the temporal lobe degenerates and begins to atrophy, and since the hearing area, once lost, cannot reorganize itself, if we do not intervene promptly we risk this area of the brain becomes completely inactive and neurodegenerates. Unfortunately we know that when the brain begins to atrophy, phenomena of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration can be established which due to contiguity (nearby areas in the brain) can pass from the hearing area to the nearby ones, and in particular affecting the area of memory – says the neuroscientist – Several scientific studies have shown that untreated hearing loss predisposes people to a greater risk of getting Alzheimer's disease”.

“Fortunately, however, different studies demonstrate that by using hearing aids, including those that are surgically implanted, it is possible to reverse this process of both redirection and neurodegeneration, thus improving the brain's capabilities and preventing cognitive deterioration – he states – In general the loss of progressive and bilateral hearing, occurs in subjects of a certain age in whom the aging processes have already begun to affect memory functions, therefore I believe that a combined approach, hearing rehabilitation plus memory exercises plus molecules to combat neuroinflammation, can be absolutely useful. A 2022 study published in Frontiers Aging Neuroscience demonstrates that the use of ultramicronized PEA is able to improve both the metabolism of the brain and that of the mitochondria. The latter (organelles that produce energy for cells) are very present in the ear; therefore, this molecule, in addition to being beneficial for cognitive functions, could also be beneficial for auditory ones. We are organizing a study to evaluate how the use of the ultramicronized PEA molecule can help subjects wearing hearing aids recover satisfactory hearing functions.”

Hearing well, he concludes, “allows us to maintain social relationships which are another important element for preserving the brain in the best conditions”.

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