Establishing the link between dementia and hearing loss has the potential to change clinical practice and detect dementia earlier.

  • Although several research groups have reported a possible association between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline, to date no one knows why it exists.
  • In collaboration with the neurology department of St Vincent’s Hospital, we have brought together a team with multidisciplinary expertise to provide an innovative approach and prevent cognitive decline.
  • Our aim is to translate this research into clinical applications to transform the life of people with hearing loss and dementia.

Why do we need to find the missing link between dementia and hearing loss?

According to the 2020 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, hearing loss is listed as the most modifiable risk factor for dementia prevalence.

This means, that among the projected 100 million people worldwide who will be affected by dementia by 2050, 8% of those cases could be prevented or delayed if hearing loss in midlife was treated.

However, a significant proportion of this population affected by mild or moderate hearing loss is not looking for treatment or does not wear prescribed hearing aids.

In fact, little is known about the negative impact of this deficit on the trajectory of cognitive aging, but concerns are emerging from clinicians who observe that early treatment of hearing loss could be a game changer in the fight against dementia.

Considering the significant health, social and economic burden cognitive decline is representing, the Bionics Institute has taken the challenge to join this field with the intention to participate in the general effort to reduce the progression of dementia across the globe.

Our strategy is to study the early changes that are happening in the brain when someone is at risk of cognitive decline. Strong markers for the onset of cognitive impairment are expected to be characterized along the path and that would lead to new ways of preventing cognitive decline.

The output of this work will directly serve the lives of ageing individuals who are at risk of developing dementia and the clinicians who are trying to help them.

The research team

Bionics Institute researcher: Associate Professor Gérard Loquet