Effects of cochlear implantation on cognitive decline in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sora An, Eunha Jo, Sang Beom Jun, Jee Eun Sung

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Background: Hearing loss has been reported as the most significant modifiable risk factor for dementia, but it is still unknown whether auditory rehabilitation can practically prevent cognitive decline. We aim to systematically analyze the longitudinal effects of auditory rehabilitation via cochlear implants (CIs). Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched relevant literature published from January 1, 2000 to April 30, 2022, using electronic databases, and selected studies in which CIs were performed mainly on older adults and follow-up assessments were conducted in both domains: speech perception and cognitive function. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted for each domain and for each timepoint comparison (pre-CI vs. six months post-CI; six months post-CI vs. 12 months post-CI; pre-CI vs. 12 months post-CI), and heterogeneity was assessed using Cochran's Q test. Findings: Of the 1918 retrieved articles, 20 research papers (648 CI subjects) were included. The results demonstrated that speech perception was rapidly enhanced after CI, whereas cognitive function had different speeds of improvement for different subtypes: executive function steadily improved significantly up to 12 months post-CI (g = 0.281, p < 0.001; g = 0.115, p = 0.003; g = 0.260, p < 0.001 in the order of timepoint comparison); verbal memory was significantly enhanced at six months post-CI and was maintained until 12 months post-CI (g = 0.296, p = 0.002; g = 0.095, p = 0.427; g = 0.401, p < 0.001); non-verbal memory showed no considerable progress at six months post-CI, but significant improvement at 12 months post-CI (g = −0.053, p = 0.723; g = 0.112, p = 0.089; g = 0.214, p = 0.023). Interpretation: The outcomes demonstrate that auditory rehabilitation via CIs could have a long-term positive impact on cognitive abilities. Given that older adults’ cognitive abilities are on the trajectory of progressive decline with age, these results highlight the need to increase the adoption of CIs among this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere19703
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

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