The Impact of Age-Related Hearing Loss on Working Memory among Older Individuals: An Event-Related Potential Study

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Introduction: Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) may affect working memory (WM), which impacts problem-solving, decision-making, language comprehension, and learning. Limited research exists on how ARHL affects WM using N-back tasks, but studying this is crucial for understanding neural markers and associated cognitive processes. Our study explores the impact of ARHL on WM using behavioral and electrophysiological measures and how it correlates with speech-in-noise scores in older individuals with ARHL. Method: The study involved two groups, each with 20 participants aged 60-80. Group 1 had individuals with mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss, while Group 2 had age- and education-matched controls with normal or nearnormal hearing. Participants underwent audiological assessments and completed cognitive tests, including simple reaction time and N-back tests. During the performance of cognitive tasks, a simultaneous electroencephalography was recorded. Data analysis included behavioral and eventrelated potentials, source estimation, and functional connectivity analysis. Results: The study revealed significantly poor accuracy, longer reaction time, and smaller P300 amplitude among individuals with ARHL, even after controlling for general slowing. Individuals with ARHL experience compromised neural activity, particularly in the temporal and parietal regions, which are vital for cognition and WM. Furthermore, individuals with ARHL exhibited poor communication between the superior temporal gyrus and insulae regions among the brain regions mediating WM during the 1-back task. Also, the study found a strong correlation between hearing measures and WM outcomes. Conclusion: The study findings suggest that individuals with ARHL have impaired WM compared to those with normal hearing. This indicates a potential link between ARHL and cognitive decline, which could significantly affect daily life and quality of life. The widely used WM test with simultaneous EEG recording and source estimation analysis would further validate the usefulness of the study in assessing WM in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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