Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A new study led by University of Oxford researchers on over 82,000 participants has shown that difficulty hearing spoken conversations is associated with up to 91% increased risk of dementia.

Elderly woman with hearing aid on grey background. Close up.

Hearing impairment affects around 1.5 billion individuals worldwide (World Health Organization), and there is growing evidence that this could increase the risk of dementia. A major component of hearing impairment is difficulty hearing speech in noisy environments (speech-in-noise hearing impairment). This can have a large impact on the day-to-day functioning of affected individuals who can struggle to follow conversations or hear announcements in noisy environments. However, until now it was unclear whether difficulty hearing speech-in-noise was associated with developing dementia.

This has now been robustly investigated in a new study led by the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH) published today in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. The study involved over 82,000 women and men aged 60 years or older from UK Biobank. At the beginning of the study, participants were asked to identify spoken numbers against a background of white noise and based on this test were grouped by the researchers into normal, insufficient and poor speech-in-noise hearing.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website.

Similar stories

New evidence for how our brains handle surprise

A new study from the Bruno Group is challenging our perceptions of how the different regions of the cerebral cortex function. A group of ‘quiet’ cells in the somatosensory cortex that rarely respond to touch have been found to react mainly to surprising circumstances. The results suggest their function is not necessarily driven by touch, but may indicate an important and previously unidentified role across all the major cortices.

Language learning difficulties in children linked to brain differences

A new study using MRI has revealed structural brain changes in children with developmental language disorder (DLD), a common but under-recognised difficulty in language learning. Children with DLD aged 10-15 showed reduced levels of myelin in areas of the brain associated with speaking and listening to others, and areas involved in learning new skills. This finding is a significant advance in our understanding of DLD and these brain differences may explain the poorer language outcomes in this group.

The Gene Therapists Headline at Glastonbury 2022

Rosie Munday writes about her experience taking science to the masses at the Glastonbury Festival.

New research reveals relationship between particular brain circuits and different aspects of mental wellbeing

Researchers at the University of Oxford have uncovered previously unknown details about how changes in the brain contribute to changes in wellbeing.

Night-time blood pressure assessment is found to be important in diagnosing hypertension

Around 15% of people aged 40-75 may have a form of undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension) that occurs only at night-time. Because they do not know about this, and therefore are not being treated for it, they are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease such as stroke, heart failure, and even death, suggests new research from the University of Oxford published in the British Journal of General Practice.