Disregarding hearing loss leads to overestimation of age-related cognitive decline

M.J.S. Guerreiro*, Pascal W. M. Van Gerven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aging is associated with cognitive and sensory decline. While several studies have indicated greater cognitive decline among older adults with hearing loss, the extent to which age-related differences in cognitive processing may have been overestimated due to group differences in sensory processing has remained unclear. We addressed this question by comparing younger adults, older adults with good hearing, and older adults with poor hearing in several cognitive domains: working memory, selective attention, processing speed, inhibitory control, and abstract reasoning. Furthermore, we examined whether sensory-related cognitive decline depends on cognitive demands and on the sensory modality used for assessment. Our results revealed that age-related cognitive deficits in most cognitive domains varied as a function of hearing loss, being more pronounced in older adults with poor hearing. Furthermore, sensory-related cognitive decline was observed across different levels of cognitive demands and independent of the sensory modality used for cognitive assessment, suggesting a generalized
effect of age-related hearing loss on cognitive functioning. As most cognitive aging studies have not taken sensory acuity into account, age-related cognitive decline may have been overestimated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-189
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Aging
  • Hearing loss
  • Working memory
  • Selective attention
  • Inhibitory control
  • Abstract reasoning

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