Auditory Evoked Responses in Older Adults with Normal Hearing, Untreated, and Treated Age-Related Hearing Loss

Katrina S. McClannahan, Kristina C. Backer, Kelly L. Tremblay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The goal of this study was to identify the effects of auditory deprivation (age-related hearing loss) and auditory stimulation (history of hearing aid use) on the neural registration of sound across two stimulus presentation conditions: (1) equal sound pressure level and (2) equal sensation level. Design: We used a between-groups design, involving three groups of 14 older adults (n = 42; 62 to 84 years): (1) clinically defined normal hearing (≤25 dB from 250 to 8000 Hz, bilaterally), (2) bilateral mild–moderate/moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss who have never used hearing aids, and (3) bilateral mild–moderate/moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss who have worn bilateral hearing aids for at least the past 2 years. Results: There were significant delays in the auditory P1-N1-P2 complex in older adults with hearing loss compared with their normal hearing peers when using equal sound pressure levels for all participants. However, when the degree and configuration of hearing loss were accounted for through the presentation of equal sensation level stimuli, no latency delays were observed. These results suggest that stimulus audibility modulates P1-N1-P2 morphology and should be controlled for when defining deprivation and stimulus-related neuroplasticity in people with hearing loss. Moreover, a history of auditory stimulation, in the form of hearing aid use, does not appreciably alter the neural registration of unaided auditory evoked brain activity when quantified by the P1-N1-P2. Conclusions: When comparing auditory cortical responses in older adults with and without hearing loss, stimulus audibility, and not hearing loss–related neurophysiological changes, results in delayed response latency for those with age-related hearing loss. Future studies should carefully consider stimulus presentation levels when drawing conclusions about deprivation- and stimulation-related neuroplasticity. Additionally, auditory stimulation, in the form of a history of hearing aid use, does not significantly affect the neural registration of sound when quantified using the P1-N1-P2–evoked response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106-1116
Number of pages11
JournalEar and hearing
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Auditory evoked responses
  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing loss

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