Introduction: Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) is a self-reported cognitive decline without objective cognitive impairment. The relationship between audiometric hearing loss (HL) and cognitive function has not been reported in SCD. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether HL affects cognition-related indexes in SCD individuals. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study that used the baseline data of a multicenter cohort study that monitors clinical progression from SCD to dementia. Individuals aged ≥60 years who reported cognitive decline but had no objective cognitive impairment on comprehensive neuropsychological tests were recruited. Participants were grouped into the normal-hearing (NH) and bilateral HL groups. The demographics, clinical characteristics, dementia biomarkers, global cognition, questionnaire scores, neuropsychological test scores, and segmental brain volumes from MRI were compared between the groups. Results: Of a total of 120 participants, one hundred and two had NH (n = 57) or bilateral HL (n = 45). There were no group differences in the demographic and clinical data except the age. The biomarkers, global cognition, and questionnaire scores were not different between the groups. The HL group performed worse (the z-score of -0.06) in the Stroop Color Word Test than the NH group (0.27) (p = 0.025). Brain volumetric analysis revealed that the HL group had reduced gray matter volumes in four brain subregions: left temporal pole, left caudal middle frontal gyrus, left hippocampus, and right isthmus of the cingulate gyrus. Conclusion: In SCD, HL exerted an adverse effect on cognitive function, primarily frontal executive function tested in the Stroop task. HL was also related to gray matter volume reductions in brain subregions, although causality needs further investigation. This study may provide evidence for a potential link between hearing and cognition in SCD, an emerging clinical entity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The project has been funded by a grant from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (HI18C0530), Republic of Korea.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.
- Alzheimer s dementia
- Brain volumetry
- Cognitive reserve
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Stroop test