Issues in Central Presbycusis
Humes and colleagues (2012) summarized the findings of the American Academy of Audiology’s task force on central presbycusis. The AAA Task Force defined central presbycusis as "…age-related change in the auditory portions of the central nervous system negatively impacting auditory perception, speech communication performance, or both." The task force exhaustively reviewed 165 articles relating to central presbycusis. After evaluation of the scientific literature they determined "there is insufficient evidence to confirm the existence of central presbycusis as an isolated entity." Nonetheless, the task force noted recent evidence does support the concept of central presbycusis as a "multi-factorial condition" that involves age-related changes, and/or disease-related changes within the auditory system and the brain.
The authors conclude that "peripheral-auditory, central-auditory, and cognitive factors are intertwined and difficult to disentangle using behavioral measures from older adults." When listening to speech signals in challenging situations (i.e., noise, reverb, soft sounds…) central auditory processing is (arguably) impacted by executive function, further reducing the distinction between auditory and cognitive function.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Humes LA, Dubno JR, Gordon-Salant S, Lister JJ, Cacace AT, Cruickshanks KJ, Gates GA, Wilson RH, Wingfield A. (2012) Central Presbycusis—A Review and Evaluation of the Evidence. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:635-666.