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Pure tone audiometry and cerebral pathology in healthy older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thomas Parker, David M Cash, Chris Lane, Kirsty Lu, Ian B Malone, Jennifer M Nicholas, Sarah James, Ashvini Keshavan, Heidi Murray-Smith, Andrew Wong, Sarah Buchannan, Sarah Keuss, Carole H Sudre, David Thomas, Sebastian Crutch, Doris-Eva Bamiou, Jason D Warren, Nick C Fox, Marcus Richards, Jonathan M Schott

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Hearing impairment may be a modifiable risk factor for dementia. However, it is unclear how hearing associates with pathologies relevant to dementia in preclinical populations.

METHODS: Data from 368 cognitively healthy individuals born during 1 week in 1946 (age range 69.2-71.9 years), who underwent structural MRI, 18F-florbetapir positron emission tomography, pure tone audiometry and cognitive testing as part of a neuroscience substudy the MRC National Survey of Health and Development were analysed. The aim of the analysis was to investigate whether pure tone audiometry performance predicted a range of cognitive and imaging outcomes relevant to dementia in older adults.

RESULTS: There was some evidence that poorer pure tone audiometry performance was associated with lower primary auditory cortex thickness, but no evidence that it predicted in vivo β-amyloid deposition, white matter hyperintensity volume, hippocampal volume or Alzheimer's disease-pattern cortical thickness. A negative association between pure tone audiometry and mini-mental state examination score was observed, but this was no longer evident after excluding a test item assessing repetition of a single phrase.

CONCLUSION: Pure tone audiometry performance did not predict concurrent β-amyloid deposition, small vessel disease or Alzheimer's disease-pattern neurodegeneration, and had limited impact on cognitive function, in healthy adults aged approximately 70 years.

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