Researchers at the Brain and Behavior Laboratory at the University of Colorado studying neuroplasticity and the impact of age-related hearing loss on the brain are finding that when hearing loss is present, the “hearing areas of the brain shrink” and the brain then recruits areas of the brain typically used for higher decision-making functions just to processes sound impulses. This form of compensation increases the overall load on the brain and may contribute to cognitive decline. Dr. Anu Sharma of the lab, reports, “Compensatory brain reorganization secondary to hearing loss may also be a factor in explaining recent reports in the literature that show age-related hearing loss is significantly correlated with dementia.” Further she notes, “Given that even small degrees of hearing loss can cause secondary changes in the brain, hearing screenings for adults and intervention in the form of hearing aids should be considered much earlier to protect against reorganization of the brain.”

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