What Is The Connection Between Hearing And Cognitive Decline?

While hearing loss limits one’s ability to hear sounds coming from the environment, it may also contribute to cognitive decline and auditory processing.

Processing Sound

Many people believe that sound is only processed in our ears but that is not the case. When sounds are heard, the sound travels through our ear canal to reach our eardrum, which then “beats” sound waves causing the malleus, incus, and stapes bones to move. When these bones move, they then transmit sound waves to the oval window, which separates the outer ear from the inner ear. When the sound waves reach the inner ear, they are transmitted to the cochlea, which contains fluid that vibrates when sound waves are transmitted to it. When the sound waves reach the cochlea, hair cells process the vibrations of the cochlea into signals that travel to the brain to be interpreted. In the brain, the location, melody, rhythm, harmony, and language are processed from sound, and the listener is able to interpret what the sound is and where it came from.

No wonder how hearing loss contributes to cognitive decline, as your brain must work harder to be able to interpret sounds and their contents. When people are unable to hear sounds, they may misinterpret what someone is saying or not be able to localize a sound in their environment, such as a fire truck siren. 

Preventing Cognitive Decline

How can people prevent themselves from hearing loss and resulting in cognitive decline? For starters, avoiding the use of headphones with music turned up to high volumes. When “blasting” music, it is possible to cause damage to the inner ear via exposure to intense sound waves. If at a concert or a party, try to avoid being close to speakers which will have the most sound intensity in order to avoid any damage to the ear and eardrums. Additionally, if you are experiencing hearing loss, you may want to check with your doctor about your ear hygiene. Earwax buildup may cause someone to lose their hearing. Lastly, consider purchasing a hearing aid if you notice yourself experiencing hearing loss. By doing these things, you can prevent your brain from working overtime to interpret the sounds that you are encountering in your environment.


Working on auditory processing with your patients? HappyNeuron Pro offers auditory processing exercises that tap verbal memory and sound differentiation. You can try HappyNeuron Pro’s auditory processing exercises by signing up for a free trial today!


Washburn, D. E. (2021, November 16). What is the connection between hearing and cognitive decline? Southlake Style – Southlake’s Premiere Lifestyle Resource. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.southlakestyle.com/style/wellness/what-is-the-connection-between-hearing-and-cognitive-decline/

Dustin Luchmee

Dustin was HappyNeuron's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

Related Content in Cognitive Therapy,Healthy Aging

Recent Articles

HappyNeuron Pro Logo

Are you a therapist looking for Cognitive Stimulation tools for your patients?

Check out HappyNeuron Pro’s FREE Worksheets !