There is growing evidence of an association between hearing loss and cognitive decline in the elderly. However, the nature of this association (causal or common-factor) is yet to be established. Since both hearing impairment and dementia have heterogeneous underlying pathologies, the task of understanding the mechanisms of their association poses significant challenges that would require longitudinal studies of large cohorts to provide unequivocal evidence. Instead, in the project we chose to focus on one perceptual ability - multisensory integration – that has been studied in both hearing impaired populations and in those with cognitive decline or dementia. Former studies have generally not adequately controlled for hearing impairment in the dementia studies or vice versa.

Our aim is to investigate common or separate patterns of the effects of multisensory integration in the two populations, by studying multisensory integration in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment with and without hearing loss, and in people with hearing impairment with and without amnestic mild cognitive impairment. The expected outcome (hypothesis) is to obtain an early biomarker for dementia in hearing impaired people or, if multisensory integration is comparable between the two groups, to identify a common underlying pathological process.

Suitable background of students: Audiology, Neuroscience, Biomedical, Medical Sciences

Supervisors: Prof Colette McKay, Prof Gerard Loquet

For all student queries please email: [email protected]