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Say Again? Brain May Be At Root Of Some Hearing Problems

By wochit 01 December 2016

Seniors who struggle to make out what people are saying around the dinner table or on a noisy street may have perfectly "normal" hearing. A new study suggests the problem could actually be in the brain. According to UPI, trouble processing conversations in a loud setting may indicate that the brain's ability to quickly and easily process speech is diminished. Study co-author Jonathan Simon said the findings demonstrate that "separately from any typical hearing loss that might occur as we age, our brains also get worse at processing the sound of talking when there are other sounds at the same time." About one in three Americans aged 65 to 74 has some degree of hearing loss, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. For those 75 or older, half have difficulty hearing. Midbrain scans revealed that neurological signaling related to hearing was weaker among the older study participants. And cortex scans suggested that auditory information took longer to process among seniors than young adults. Why? The study authors theorized that the problem could trace back to normal age-related nerve impairment that undermines signaling and communication between nerve cells in the brain. Regardless, the bottom line was clear: seniors often have to expend more effort to hear, and often end up with worse results.