All of us at Longmont Hearing and Tinnitus Center are dedicated to improving your hearing health. Did you know? There is a connection between hearing health and cognitive function? That is why we have started incorporating Cognivue Cognitive Screenings as part of our offering. Though it may seem unrelated, there is increasing evidence that age-related hearing loss is linked to a more rapid progression of cognitive decline and incidental dementia.
Hearing Loss: Impact
Studies have shown that long-term hearing deprivation of auditory inputs can impact cognitive performance by decreasing the quality of communication, which leads to social isolation and depression, and can facilitate dementia. In fact, limited cognitive skills from aging may reduce the cognitive resources available for understanding speech, especially when background noise is present. 
There are 3 fundamental processes that people need in order to hear well and understand speech.
- The ear serves as a connection between the acoustic environment and the brain. It detects, codes, and sends the signal along.
- The central auditory system then modifies and analyzes the signal.
- Finally, the brain (this is the cognitive process) enhances perception, understands the content received, and stores the information.
Studies have shown that efferent top-down and afferent bottom-up processing is critical to speech perception , making the link between audibility and cognition that much more vital. This process works in both directions, both from top-down to bottom-up. Here’s how:
- The brain emphasizes certain aspects of the incoming signal, allowing for improvements in perception
- The brain works to compensate for poorly understood bottom-up sensory cues
- Cognitive Factors help with: attention, listening effort, memory, multi-sensory integration, and prediction in helping code/understand sounds
- The ear engages in additional processing to refine the signal, and extracts important elements that are used for higher level processing
- Sounds are initially coded by the ear, before it’s sent through the auditory system
- Neural signal passed up through auditory system
How do we Conduct Cognitive Screenings?
We use the Cognivue® Thrive device. With the Cognivue® Thrive Device, we’re able to provide a 5-minute self-administered test to evaluate cognitive function. It’s a computer-based screening that involves watching a screen and moving a joystick. It’s super easy to take and is not dependent on hearing. The screening tests the following:
- Executive Function
- Reaction Time
- Processing Speed
About Cognivue® Thrive:
- Based on FDA-cleared technology used by neurologists and other physicians to test for cognitive function
- 5-minute self-administered computerized screening
- Proven superior test-retest reliability
- Evaluates three cognitive domains: memory, visuospatial, and executive function
- Measures two speed performance parameters: reaction time and speed processing
Once you’ve completed the test, you then receive a report on your cognitive function:
- Provides brain health score for each domain and performance parameter: Memory, Visuospatial, Executive Function, Reaction Time, and Processing speed
- Informs on patient’s ability with examples of impact on daily activity
We’re very excited about the improvements in hearing health that we can achieve with the use of this device. If you’re curious about whether you have hearing loss, or if your hearing loss has impacted cognitive function, reach out to us! We’ll set you up with a test, along with tips on how to proceed with whatever results you get.
1. Fortunato S, Forli F, Guglielmi V, et al. A review of new insights on the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline in ageing. Ipoacusia e declino cognitivo: revisione della letteratura. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2016;36(3):155-166.
2. Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293-299.
3. Loughrey DG, Kelly ME, Kelley GA, Brennan S, Lawlor BA. Association of Age-Related Hearing Loss With Cognitive Function, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis [published correction appears in JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018 Feb 1;144(2):176]. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018;144(2):115-126.
4. Rönnberg J, Lunner T, Zekveld A, et al. The Ease of Language Understanding (ELU) model: theoretical, empirical, and clinical advances. Front Syst Neurosci. 2013;7:31. Published 2013 Jul 13. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2013.00031