The Ear–Brain Connection: Older Ears and Older Brains Purpose The purpose of this article is to review recent research from our laboratory on the topic of aging, and the ear–brain system, as it relates to hearing aid use and auditory rehabilitation. The material described here was presented as part of the forum on the brain and hearing aids, ... Research Forum
Research Forum  |   June 01, 2015
The Ear–Brain Connection: Older Ears and Older Brains
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kelly L. Tremblay
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Kelly L. Tremblay: tremblay@uw.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes
    Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Forum: The Brain and Hearing Aids
Research Forum   |   June 01, 2015
The Ear–Brain Connection: Older Ears and Older Brains
American Journal of Audiology, June 2015, Vol. 24, 117-120. doi:10.1044/2015_AJA-14-0068
History: Received November 7, 2014 , Revised March 25, 2015 , Accepted March 29, 2015
 
American Journal of Audiology, June 2015, Vol. 24, 117-120. doi:10.1044/2015_AJA-14-0068
History: Received November 7, 2014; Revised March 25, 2015; Accepted March 29, 2015

Purpose The purpose of this article is to review recent research from our laboratory on the topic of aging, and the ear–brain system, as it relates to hearing aid use and auditory rehabilitation. The material described here was presented as part of the forum on the brain and hearing aids, at the 2014 HEaling Across the Lifespan (HEAL) conference.

Method The method involves a narrative review of previously reported electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from our laboratory as they relate to the (a) neural detection of amplified sound and (b) ability to learn new sound contrasts.

Conclusions Results from our studies add to the mounting evidence that there are central effects of biological aging as well as peripheral pathology that affect a person's neural detection and use of sound. What is more, these biological effects can be seen as early as middle age. The accruing evidence has implications for hearing aid use because effective communication relies not only on sufficient detection of sound but also on the individual's ability to learn to make use of these sounds in ever-changing listening environments.

Acknowledgments
We acknowledge funding from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC012769-02 as well as the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center Traveling Scholar program.
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