Effects of aging and adult-onset hearing loss on cortical auditory regions

Velia Cardin

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90 Citations (Scopus)
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Hearing loss is a common feature in human aging. It has been argued that dysfunctions in central processing are important contributing factors to hearing loss during older age. Aging also has well documented consequences for neural structure and function, but it is not clear how these effects interact with those that arise as a consequence of hearing loss. This paper reviews the effects of aging and adult-onset hearing loss in the structure and function of cortical auditory regions. The evidence reviewed suggests that aging and hearing loss result in atrophy of cortical auditory regions and stronger engagement of networks involved in the detection of salient events, adaptive control and re-allocation of attention. These cortical mechanisms are engaged during listening in effortful conditions in normal hearing individuals. Therefore, as a consequence of aging and hearing loss, all listening becomes effortful and cognitive load is constantly high, reducing the amount of available cognitive resources. This constant effortful listening and reduced cognitive spare capacity could be what accelerates cognitive decline in older adults with hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number199
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016


  • hearing loss
  • aging (aging)
  • aging and cognitive function
  • cognitive decline
  • Auditory cortex
  • humans

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