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Poster D20

Effect of Age-Related Hearing Loss on Auditory Working Memory in Age-Related Hearing Loss: An fNIRS Study

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Bridger L. Jorgensen1 (, Allison S. Hancock1, Mindee L. Anderson1, Alan Wisler1, Tiffany Shelton1, Ronald B. Gillam1, Naveen Nagaraj1; 1Utah State Universtity

Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) increases listening effort by taxing working memory (WM) resources. We probed neural activation patterns during an auditory N-back task in older individuals with ARHL immediately after being fitted with hearing aids. Twelve participants (mean age = 80.3) with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss performed a continuous auditory N-back task with 0-back, 1-back, and 2-back conditions, each with 32 trials and a three-second response window. Linear mixed-effects models were constructed for the dependent variables of N-back accuracy, response time and fNIRS beta values, using 0-back as a fixed effect to control for sustained attention. The independent variables were conditions (1-back and 2-back), and regions of interest (ROI:left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-LDLPFC, superior temporal gyrus-STG, and inferior parietal lobule-IPL). Accuracy decreased significantly and response time increased statistically from 1-back to 2-back. fNIRS results revealed significant 2-way interactions between task and ROI. Activation in the IPL decreased from 1-back to 2-back but activation in the STG increased from 1-back to 2-back. We did not find an expected increase of activation in DLPFC during the 2-back tasks. The lack of significant interaction in the DLPFC suggests atypical neural compensatory mechanism in older adults with hearing loss, where cognitive resources are reallocated to the STG. Such reorganization might indicate a potential adaptive response of the brain prioritizing the processing of auditory input resulting in reduced information processing in WM. By analyzing how hearing aids influence brain activity and cognitive processes, we can understand their potential role in cognitive decline linked to ARHL.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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