Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Our Aging Ears And Brains: Why Listening In Background Noise Gets Tougher As We Age

Date:
February 17, 2009
Source:
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Summary:
Older adults often have trouble understanding what someone is saying when surrounded by background noise, such as at a restaurant or party, but their ears may not be the only problem. Researchers are studying how much the brain plays a role as well.

Older adults often have trouble understanding what someone is saying when surrounded by background noise, such as at a restaurant or party, but their ears may not be the only problem. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina are studying how much the brain plays a role as well.

Supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one of the National Institutes of Health, the scientists are presenting their findings at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Baltimore.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers performed brain scans on 36 older and younger adults as they tested their ability to identify certain words, some of which had been filtered to make them difficult to understand. The researchers analyzed the scans to functionally define speech- and attention-related areas of the brain and then examined the volume of gray matter in those regions for age-related changes.

They found that, in general, older adults were significantly worse at identifying words than younger adults in challenging listening conditions. Even after eliminating variation due to possible hearing loss, these differences in performance corresponded closely to a loss of volume in a small portion of the auditory cortex, a part of the brain that processes what our ears hear. What's more, the relationship between the volume of gray matter in this brain region and the ability to identify words was present in both younger and older adults, suggesting that aging may intensify developmental problems that a person may have in understanding speech.

The findings could help us better understand presbycusis, a type of hearing loss brought on by aging that also involves the brain's ability to process what the ears hear.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. "Our Aging Ears And Brains: Why Listening In Background Noise Gets Tougher As We Age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093549.htm>.
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2009, February 17). Our Aging Ears And Brains: Why Listening In Background Noise Gets Tougher As We Age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093549.htm
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. "Our Aging Ears And Brains: Why Listening In Background Noise Gets Tougher As We Age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093549.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins