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Age-related hearing loss associated with differences in the neural correlates of feature binding in visual working memory.

Neurobiology of Aging 2023 September 29
The underlying neural mechanisms underpinning the association between age-related hearing loss (ARHL) and dementia remain unclear. A limitation has been the lack of functional neuroimaging studies in ARHL cohorts to help clarify this relationship. In the present study, we investigated the neural correlates of feature binding in visual working memory with ARHL (controls = 14, mild HL = 21, and moderate or greater HL = 23). Participants completed a visual change detection task assessing feature binding while their neural activity was synchronously recorded via high-density electroencephalography. There was no difference in accuracy scores for ARHL groups compared to controls. There was increased electrophysiological activity in those with ARHL, particularly in components indexing the earlier stages of visual cognitive processing. This activity was more pronounced with more severe ARHL and was associated with maintained feature binding. Source space (sLORETA) analyses indicated greater activity in networks modulated by frontoparietal and temporal regions. Our results demonstrate there may be increased involvement of neurocognitive control networks to maintain lower-order neurocognitive processing disrupted by ARHL.

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