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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2019 Nov 26:1-14. doi: 10.1044/2019_JSLHR-H-19-0097. [Epub ahead of print]

Systematic Audiological Assessment of Auditory Functioning in Patients With Parkinson's Disease.

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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.
Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.
Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium.
Department of Information Technology (INTEC)-Acoustics Research Group, Ghent University, Belgium.
Ecole d'Orthophonie et d'Audiologie, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


Purpose Alterations in primary auditory functioning have been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Despite the current findings, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these alterations remain unclear, and the effect of dopaminergic medication on auditory functioning in PD has been explored insufficiently. Therefore, this study aimed to systematically investigate primary auditory functioning in patients with PD by using both subjective and objective audiological measurements. Method In this case-control study, 25 patients with PD and 25 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy controls underwent an audiological test battery consisting of tonal audiometry, short increment sensitivity index, otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), and speech audiometry. Patients with PD were tested in the on- and off-medication states. Results Increased OAE amplitudes were found when patients with PD were tested without dopaminergic medication. In addition, speech audiometry in silence and multitalker babble noise demonstrated higher phoneme scores for patients with PD in the off-medication condition. The results showed no differences in auditory functioning between patients with PD in the on-medication condition and healthy controls. No effect of disease stage or motor score was evident. Conclusions This study provides evidence for a top-down involvement in auditory processing in PD at both central and peripheral levels. Most important, the increase in OAE amplitude in the off-medication condition in PD is hypothesized to be linked to a dysfunction of the olivocochlear efferent system, which is known to have an inhibitory effect on outer hair cell functioning. Future studies may clarify whether OAEs may facilitate an early diagnosis of PD.

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