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Can hearing loss cause dementia? Scientists propose new theory

Can hearing loss cause dementia? Scientists propose new theory

Hearing loss has been linked to dementia in many studies, but new research is shining a light on how it may have a far greater influence than previously thought. 

Can hearing loss cause dementia? Scientists propose new theory

Scientists have proposed a new theory when it comes to hearing loss and dementia.

The study, published in the journal Neuron, provides a new theory for how a disorder of the ear can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Led by a team at Newcastle University, UK, the study looked at three key aspects. First, an underlying cause for hearing loss and dementia. Second, how a lack of sound-related input leads to brain shrinkage.

And finally, the way cognitive impairment results in people having to use more brain resources to compensate for hearing loss, taking away from other tasks.

The scientists sought to explain how changes in brain activity due to hearing loss promote the presence of proteins that trigger Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings indicate that the part of the brain associated with long-term memory loss is also involved in short-term storage and manipulation of auditory information.

Dr Will Sedley, from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, concluded that the memory system engaged in difficult listening is the most common site for onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We propose that altered activity in the memory system caused by hearing loss and the Alzheimer’s disease process trigger each other,” explained Dr Sedley.

The scientists hope the new theory will pave the way for further advancements on tackling hearing loss early, so as to prevent the disease.

“Researchers now need to examine this mechanism in models of the pathological process to test if this new theory is right,” said Dr Sedley.

READ MORE: The 12 risk factors of dementia you should know.

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