Gray matter declines with age and hearing loss, but is partially maintained in tinnitus

Elouise A Koops*, Emile de Kleine, Pim van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The impact of age-related hearing loss extends beyond the auditory pathway and impacts brain areas related to cognitive impairment and even dementia. The presence of tinnitus, a sensation of sound that frequently co-occurs with hearing loss, is additionally linked to cognitive decline. Interestingly, structural neuroimaging studies have reported that hearing loss may precede or modulate the onset of cognitive impairment. In this study, we aimed to disentangle the effects of age, hearing loss, and tinnitus on gray matter structure. In total, 39 participants with hearing loss and tinnitus, 21 with hearing loss but without tinnitus, and 39 controls were included in this voxel- and surface-based morphometry MRI study. Whole brain volume and surface thickness measures were compared between the groups. Age-related gray matter volume decline was observed in all groups. Several brain areas showed smaller gray matter volume and cortical surface thickness in hearing loss without tinnitus, relative to controls. This reduction was observed both within and outside of the auditory pathway. Interestingly, these reductions were not observed in participants with tinnitus, who had similar hearing loss and were of similar age. Since we have tools to improve hearing loss, hearing screening may aid in the battle against cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21801
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11-Dec-2020

Keywords

  • AUDITORY-CORTEX
  • CORTICAL THICKNESS
  • OLDER-ADULTS
  • DEMENTIA
  • VOLUME
  • IMPAIRMENT
  • PLASTICITY
  • REORGANIZATION
  • MORPHOMETRY
  • DYSFUNCTION

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