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Does cognitive training in the elderly enhance the ability to understand speech in complex communication environments?

Hearing loss and cognitive decline are frequently observed in older persons. Restricted speech understanding in adverse listening situations is a commonly reported problem. Recent work has shown that distinct cognitive factors such as attention, memory and fluid intelligence are related to speech understanding in complex communication environments.

In the context of hearing aid provision auditory training is a common measure to address the problems encountered with hearing impairment. We propose that cognitive training might also be beneficial with regard to speech understanding in demanding environments. The present project is a first step in this direction.

It aims at establishing an interactive cognitive training program considering educational elements and cortical plasticity aspects and focuses on evaluating benefit and transfer to both, cognitive functions and speech understanding. If successful the project might open an entirely new perspective in the framework of rehabilitation of age-related hearing loss.


Prof. Dr. Hartmut Meister, UoC, Jean Uhrmacher Institute for Clinical ENT-Research

Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaul, UoC, Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Prof. Dr. Josef Kessler, UoC, Department of Neurology, University Clinic Cologne