Pure tone audiometry and cerebral pathology in healthy older adults
Thomas Parker, David M Cash, Chris Lane, Kirsty Lu, Ian B Malone, Jennifer M Nicholas , Sarah James, Ashvini Keshavan, Heidi Murray-Smith, Andrew Wong, Sarah Buchannan, Sarah Keuss, Carole H Sudre, David Thomas, Sebastian Crutch, Doris-Eva Bamiou, Jason D Warren, Nick C Fox, Marcus Richards, Jonathan M Schott
Background Hearing impairment may be a modifiable risk factor for dementia. However, it is unclear how hearing associates with pathologies relevant to dementia in preclinical populations. Methods Data from 368 cognitively healthy individuals born during 1 week in 1946 (age range 69.2–71.9 years), who underwent structural MRI, 18F-florbetapir positron emission tomography, pure tone audiometry and cognitive testing as part of a neuroscience substudy the MRC National Survey of Health and Development were analysed. The aim of the analysis was to investigate whether pure tone audiometry performance predicted a range of cognitive and imaging outcomes relevant to dementia in older adults. Results There was some evidence that poorer pure tone audiometry performance was associated with lower primary auditory cortex thickness, but no evidence that it predicted in vivo β-amyloid deposition, white matter hyperintensity volume, hippocampal volume or Alzheimer’s disease-pattern cortical thickness. A negative association between pure tone audiometry and mini-mental state examination score was observed, but this was no longer evident after excluding a test item assessing repetition of a single phrase. Conclusion Pure tone audiometry performance did not predict concurrent β-amyloid deposition, small vessel disease or Alzheimer’s disease-pattern neurodegeneration, and had limited impact on cognitive function, in healthy adults aged approximately 70 years.