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Can cochlear implantation improve neurocognition in the elderly?

The association between cognition and hearing is well known. With regard to the growing number of older persons and the incidence of demential illness the question arises whether hearing rehabilitation might counteract cognitive decline in aging. Material and Methods: 213 patients aged 67,78 years (mean, SD 9,52) suffering from severe to profound hearing loss and scheduled for cochlear implantation underwent a computer-based evaluation of neurocognitive functions prior to surgery. The visual based test battery (ALAcog) is composed of different subtests covering short- and long-term memory, processing speed, verbal fluency, attention, working memory and inhibition. Results: 66 patients have been reassessed 6 months and 71 patients 12 months post implantation. Whereas most subtests improved after 6 months, long-term memory did not improve earlier than after 1 year (p = 0,00006). After 12 months neurocognition has significantly increased with regard to attention (p=0,00086), recall (p=0,00041), delayed recall (p =0,00069), inhibition (p = 0,0029), working memory (n-back= 0,023 and OSPAN-test p = 0,00001) as well as verbal fluency (p=0,00006). Executive functions improved the most. In general, improvement was statistically better for subjects with poor baseline results. Patients at the age of > 65 years improved in the same way as younger aged =<65 years.

Author(s): Völter Christiane

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