Age-related hearing loss (ARHL), presbycusis, is a chronic health condition that affects approximately one-third of the world's population. The peripheral and central hearing alterations associated with age-related hearing loss have a profound impact on perception of verbal and non-verbal auditory stimuli. The high prevalence of hearing loss in the older adults corresponds to the increased frequency of dementia in this population. Therefore, researchers have focused their attention on age-related central effects that occur independent of the peripheral hearing loss as well as central effects of peripheral hearing loss and its association with cognitive decline and dementia. Here we review the current evidence for the age-related changes of the peripheral and central auditory system and the relationship between hearing loss and pathological cognitive decline and dementia. Furthermore, there is a paucity of evidence on the relationship between ARHL and established biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, as the most common cause of dementia. Such studies are critical to be able to consider any causal relationship between dementia and ARHL. While this narrative review will examine the pathophysiological alterations in both the peripheral and central auditory system and its clinical implications, the question remains unanswered whether hearing loss causes cognitive impairment or vice versa.
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- age-related hearing loss
- auditory system
- cognitive functions