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Memory and Central Auditory Function Related

Central auditory function worsens as memory loss progresses to dementia

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- A stepwise decline in central auditory function was noted when comparing patients with mild memory impairment and no dementia to Alzheimer's patients with memory loss, according to an article published in the July issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

George A. Gates, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues performed a case-control study to assess the effect of memory impairment on central auditory function. Performance on a number of tests of central auditory function were compared after dividing the 313 volunteers from a dementia surveillance research program into three groups: 17 patients with dementia and memory loss; 64 patients with memory loss and no dementia; and 232 controls without memory loss.

Average scores on all measures of central auditory function worsened significantly across the three groups, the researchers report. The dementia group performed the worst and the memory-impaired group experienced a moderate decrease compared to the controls without memory loss.

"Our working hypothesis that memory impairment and central auditory dysfunction have a common cause -- frontal lobe dysfunction -- is supported but not proved by the present findings," the authors write. "We do not yet know whether the combined presence of memory impairment and central auditory dysfunction conveys a greater risk of dementia than either condition alone, even though a prudent interpretation of these findings would raise concern that such could be the case."

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