March 5, 2014

Hearing Loss and Brain Shrinkage: A John Hopkins Study

Dr. Molly Parker
Audiologist and Owner
Parker Audiology, P.C.
Dr. Elizabeth Meinecke
Parker Audiology, P.C.

Although the brain naturally becomes smaller as people age, findings from a new study by Frank Lin, m M.D., Ph.D. at John Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging have linked accelerated brain tissue atrophy (shrinkage) to older individuals with at least a 25 dB hearing loss. Results from this study are reflective from past studies that reported differences in the brain structures of people and animals who have a measureable hearing loss.

This particular study was performed on 126 people over 10 years, and the participants had yearly MRIs to track changes in brain structure. The MRIs showed shrinkage in the regions of the brain associated with processing sound and speech. According to Dr. Lin, this shrinkage may be caused by the auditory cortex being starved of stimulation when hearing loss in present. Areas of the brain that play a role in memory and sensory integration that are involved in early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease also showed atrophy in the speech/hearing/language centers of the brain.

In our office, we observe the impact that even mild hearing loss can have on non-hearing aspects and overall quality of life, including psychological and cognitive function. Treating hearing loss and limiting these age-related changes is our concern. Hearing loss touches our patients in different ways, and families as well as the individual are equally affected. The need for personalized, individual solutions and counselling is emphasized for each individual.


Call us to schedule your appointment. (563) 326-5441.

Parker Audiology, P.C., is a locally owned, Audigy Certified, independent practice that has helped thousands of patients wanting better hearing. Dr. Elizabeth Meinecke and Dr. Molly Parker provide state of the art diagnostic testing and expert fitting for the best hearing technology for your needs.

Filed Under: Health & Wellness

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