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When hearing loss masquerades as cognitive decline
  1. Christian Füllgrabe
  1. School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christian Füllgrabe, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK; c.fullgrabe{at}

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Audibility and processing effort can bias cognitive-test performance

In recent years, dementia research has increasingly focused on age-related hearing loss and its association with accelerated cognitive decline and contribution to dementia risk.1

In this issue, Parker et al 2 (pp172–176) investigated whether pure-tone audiometric thresholds (an indicator of peripheral hearing status) predict biomarkers of dementia-associated cerebral pathologies and cognitive performance in the preclinical older population. Hearing thresholds were indeed negatively associated with scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a widely used screen for cognitive impairment. However, the authors noticed that this relationship was no longer significant when the auditory-based repetition item of the MMSE (“No ifs, ands, or buts.”) was excluded from the analysis.

From an audiological point …

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  • Contributors CF was responsible for all aspects of the drafting of the commentary.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.