BACKGROUND: Hearing loss in older adults is associated with increased dementia risk. Underlying mechanisms that connect hearing loss with dementia remain largely unclear. METHODS: We studied the association of hearing loss and biomarkers for dementia risk in two age groups with normal cognition: 65 participants from the European Medical Information Framework (EMIF)-Alzheimer's disease (AD) 90+ study (oldest-old; mean age 92.7 years, 56.9% female) and 60 participants from the EMIF-AD PreclinAD study (younger-old; mean age 74.4, 43.3% female). Hearing function was tested by the 'digits-in-noise test' and cognition by repeated neuropsychological evaluation. Regressions and generalised estimating equations were used to test the association of hearing function and PET-derived amyloid burden, and linear mixed models were used to test the association of hearing function and cognitive decline. In the oldest-old group, mediation analyses were performed to study whether cognitive decline is mediated through regional brain atrophy. RESULTS: In oldest-old individuals, hearing function was not associated with amyloid pathology (p=0.7), whereas in the younger-old individuals hearing loss was associated with higher amyloid burden (p=0.0034). In oldest-old individuals, poorer hearing was associated with a steeper decline in memory, global cognition and language, and in the younger-old with steeper decline in language only. The hippocampus and nucleus accumbens mediated the effects of hearing loss on memory and global cognition in the oldest-old individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Hearing loss was associated with amyloid binding in younger-old individuals only, and with cognitive decline in both age groups. These results suggest that mechanisms linking hearing loss with risk for dementia depends on age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Amyloid
  • Cognition
  • Dementia

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