Effects of Auditory and Cognitive Aging on Communication One of the earliest audiology textbooks, Hearing and Deafness, featured a diagram showing the physical, anatomical, physiological, and psychological aspects of speech communication from the talker to the listener (Davis, 1970). This legacy diagram illustrated the important connections linking the processing of information by the peripheral and central auditory ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2006
Effects of Auditory and Cognitive Aging on Communication
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller
    Department of Psychology, University of TorontoTornoto, Ontario, Canada
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2006
Effects of Auditory and Cognitive Aging on Communication
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, December 2006, Vol. 10, 10-14. doi:10.1044/hhd10.2.10
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, December 2006, Vol. 10, 10-14. doi:10.1044/hhd10.2.10
One of the earliest audiology textbooks, Hearing and Deafness, featured a diagram showing the physical, anatomical, physiological, and psychological aspects of speech communication from the talker to the listener (Davis, 1970). This legacy diagram illustrated the important connections linking the processing of information by the peripheral and central auditory systems to information processing at higher cognitive levels, including language, memory, and attention. Over the intervening decades, many audiologists became focused almost exclusively on understanding the peripheral auditory system, but the time has now come for audiologists to re-discover the importance of the connections between audition and cognition (for reviews see Pichora-Fuller, 2003a; Pichora-Fuller & Singh, 2006). There are four main reasons motivating audiologists to re-discover the connection between audition and cognition. First, the everyday challenges encountered by people living with hearing loss in the complex acoustic ecologies of the real world cannot be understood only in terms of hearing impairment (Kiessling et al., 2003). Second, age-related declines, including both sensory and motor impairments, may exacerbate or masquerade as cognitive declines, including problems with remembering and/or comprehending spoken language (Pichora-Fuller, Schneider, & Daneman, 1995; Schneider, Daneman, Murphy, & Kwong See, 2000). Third, the ability of older adults to use preserved cognitive abilities and supportive context to compensate for declines in rapid processing of reduced sensory information offers hope for new rehabilitative interventions (Kricos, 2006; Wingfield, 1996; Wingfield & Tun, 2001). Fourth, cognitive factors have recently been recognized as important predictors of benefit from hearing aids, especially technology with fast-acting, complex signal-processing (Gatehouse, Naylor, & Elberling, 2003; Humes, 2003; Lunner, 2003). Common to all four reasons is the importance of the link between audition and cognition, especially for older adults, whether or not they have clinically significant audiometric threshold elevations in the speech range.
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