We at the TRI Foundation are very grateful for your participation. The topics for this session are as follows:
Dementia as a disorder of the mind’s ear by Tim Griffiths, Newcastle University, UK
9% of dementia can be attributed to hearing loss in midlife (Lancet Commission 2017 & 2020). How can we explain this given that the auditory cortex is relatively spared by the commonest cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and typical AD starts in medial temporal lobe structures that are not conventionally considered as mechanisms for auditory analysis? My group works on mechanisms for auditory cognition required for real-world listening including listening in noisy backgrounds. These mechanisms require high-level structures including the medial temporal lobe and suggest clues to the link between hearing loss and dementia.
Tinnitus and cognition: friends or foes? by Will Sedley, Newcastle University, UK
Tinnitus is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 8 adults long-term. Its one major risk factor is hearing loss, but this can be mild, and only some people with hearing loss develop tinnitus irrespective of its severity. Some people with tinnitus complain of interference with cognitive functions, but it is hard to unpick difficulties specifically due to tinnitus from those related to the underlying hearing loss, or the secondary effects of tinnitus on attention. Furthermore, tinnitus itself can be considered a consequence of auditory cognitive traits, which might determine whether spontaneous activity in the auditory pathway is detected as a true ‘signal’ or ignored as ‘noise’. Theoretical models of information processing highlight the advantages gained by adding noise to a signal, and other evidence suggests that people with tinnitus might be better at detecting patterns in auditory sequences. Finally, whilst hearing loss is a risk factor for cognitive decline, emerging evidence suggests a possible protective effect of co-existing tinnitus.