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Bilateral age-related atrophy in the planum temporale is associated with vowel discrimination difficulty in healthy older adults


Isler, Benjamin; Giroud, Nathalie; Hirsiger, Sarah; Kleinjung, Tobias; Meyer, Martin (2021). Bilateral age-related atrophy in the planum temporale is associated with vowel discrimination difficulty in healthy older adults. Hearing Research, 406:108252.

Abstract

In this study we investigated the association between age-related brain atrophy and behavioural as well as electrophysiological markers of vowel perception in a sample of healthy younger and older adults with normal pure-tone hearing. Twenty-three older adults and 27 younger controls discriminated a set of vowels with altered second formants embedded in consonant-vowel syllables. Additionally, mismatch negativity (MMN) responses were recorded in a separate oddball paradigm with the same set of stimuli. A structural magnet resonance scan was obtained for each participant to determine cortical architecture of the left and right planum temporale (PT). The PT was chosen for its function as a major processor of auditory cues and speech. Results suggested that older adults performed worse in vowel discrimination despite normal-for-age pure-tone hearing. In the older group, we found evidence that those with greater age-related cortical atrophy (i.e., lower cortical surface area and cortical volume) in the left and right PT also showed weaker vowel discrimination. In comparison, we found a lateralized correlation in the younger group suggesting that those with greater cortical thickness in only the left PT performed weaker in the vowel discrimination task. We did not find any associations between macroanatomical traits of the PT and MMN responses. We conclude that deficient vowel processing is not only caused by pure-tone hearing loss but is also influenced by atrophy-related changes in the ageing auditory-related cortices. Furthermore, our results suggest that auditory processing might become more bilateral across the lifespan.

Abstract

In this study we investigated the association between age-related brain atrophy and behavioural as well as electrophysiological markers of vowel perception in a sample of healthy younger and older adults with normal pure-tone hearing. Twenty-three older adults and 27 younger controls discriminated a set of vowels with altered second formants embedded in consonant-vowel syllables. Additionally, mismatch negativity (MMN) responses were recorded in a separate oddball paradigm with the same set of stimuli. A structural magnet resonance scan was obtained for each participant to determine cortical architecture of the left and right planum temporale (PT). The PT was chosen for its function as a major processor of auditory cues and speech. Results suggested that older adults performed worse in vowel discrimination despite normal-for-age pure-tone hearing. In the older group, we found evidence that those with greater age-related cortical atrophy (i.e., lower cortical surface area and cortical volume) in the left and right PT also showed weaker vowel discrimination. In comparison, we found a lateralized correlation in the younger group suggesting that those with greater cortical thickness in only the left PT performed weaker in the vowel discrimination task. We did not find any associations between macroanatomical traits of the PT and MMN responses. We conclude that deficient vowel processing is not only caused by pure-tone hearing loss but is also influenced by atrophy-related changes in the ageing auditory-related cortices. Furthermore, our results suggest that auditory processing might become more bilateral across the lifespan.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sensory Systems
Language:English
Date:1 July 2021
Deposited On:27 Apr 2021 09:18
Last Modified:01 Jun 2021 14:47
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0378-5955
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2021.108252

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