ISSN 1308-7649 | E-ISSN 2148-3817
Original Article
Speech Audiometry Tests in Noise Are Impaired in Older Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study
1 Department of Ear Nose and Throat and Audiology Dept, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy  
2 Department of Geriatrics, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy  
3 Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Internal Medicine, Gerontology, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy  
J Int Adv Otol 2014; 10: 228-233
DOI: 10.5152/iao.2014.349
Key Words: Speech audiometry in noise, auditory tests, mild cognitive impairment

OBJECTIVE: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a frequent condition in the older population; its early diagnosis might be particularly important for the prevention of dementia onset. In particular, the aim of this study is to evaluate whether speech recognition in noise might be impaired in older patients with MCI compared with normal older individuals.


MATERIALS and METHODS: On the whole, 48 subjects were enrolled into the present study: 16 older patients with MCI, 16 older subjects without cognitive impairment (controls), and 16 normally hearing young individuals. All subjects underwent speech audiometry in noise in order to evaluate the effect of different types of masking: two kinds of energetic masking, stationary and fluctuating noise, and a kind of typical informative masking, consisting of continuous discourse.


RESULTS: The signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), expressed in dB, needed for speech reception threshold (SRT) in noise was worse in older patients affected by MCI, compared with older controls. The presence of masking likely affected the performance of both elderly controls and MCI patients; however, elderly controls had better performance with informative masking (CoDi) than MCI patients.


CONCLUSION: Speech audiometry tests in noise are impaired in MCI older patients, and this could indicate a particular decline in functions associated with selective attention in these individuals. If confirmed in a larger sample of patients, these simple tests might contribute to the early identification of MCI patients.

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