Kraus and Anderson (2013) report that the cognitive skills of the patient impacts the outcomes of hearing aid fittings. They report that older adults with hearing loss and poor working memory are "more susceptible to hearing aid distortions from signal-processing algorithms." Of note, cognitive function also appears to impact speech-in-noise perception of older adults. Imaging studies reveal when older adults listen to speech in difficult listening situations with challenging signal-to-noise ratios, the older adults activate more of their memory and attention centers (than do younger adults), indicating that older adults are using more of their cognitive resources (than younger adults) to understand the same speech task.
Kraus and Anderson report 120 adults (aged 55 to 79) with normal to moderate sensorineural hearing loss were evaluated with regard to cognitive, hearing, and neural processing ability. The tests administered included tests of memory and attention as well as pure-tone thresholds, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, QuickSin, HINT, and WIN.
The authors report, "We found that cognitive function and neural processing were the biggest contributors to variance in speech-in-noise perception. Interestingly, the contribution of hearing thresholds was not significant…." They suggest that "the recent focus on the importance of cognitive function perhaps argues for the incorporation of a quick cognitive screening into the audiology battery in the near future."
For More Information, References and Recommendations
Kraus N, Anderson S. (2013) The Auditory-Cognitive System: To Screen or Not to Screen. The Hearing Journal 66(7):36.
Beck D, Nilsson M. (2013) Speech-in-Noise Testing: A Pragmatic Addendum to Hearing Aid Fittings Hearing Review 16(37).