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Int J Audiol. 2003 Jul;42 Suppl 1:S49-58.

Cognitive function in relation to hearing aid use.

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  • 1Oticon A/S, Research Centre Eriksholm, Snekkersten, Denmark.


Two experiments were conducted to investigate possible relationships between cognitive function and hearing aid use. In Experiment 1, 72 first-time hearing aid users were tested for speech recognition in noise (Hagerman sentence test) with and without hearing aids. Cognitive function was assessed by tests of working memory (reading span test) and verbal information-processing speed. The results indicate that, after controlling for age and hearing loss, significant correlations exist between the measures of cognitive performance and speech recognition in noise, both with and without hearing aids. High cognitive performance was associated with high performance in the speech recognition task. In Experiment 2, 17 first-time hearing aid users with either high or low working-memory capacity tested an experimental hearing aid which processed the sound differently depending on whether or not speech was detected. The results revealed that those with high working-memory capacity were better than those with low capacity at identifying and reporting the specific processing effects of the aid. This may have implications for how reported results should be interpreted in a research context, how a person's rehabilitation needs are formulated, and how hearing aid controls should be supervised. In conclusion, careful attention should be paid to the cognitive status of listeners, as it can have a significant influence on their ability to utilize their hearing aids.

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