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Invited Commentary
September 3, 2020

Mapping the Brain Effects of Hearing Loss: The Matter of White Matter

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(11):1043-1044. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.2528

Described as the “greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century,”1 dementia is a debilitating disease that affects about 50 million individuals worldwide, a number projected to triple by 2050. Given the limited efficacy of current dementia treatments, society stands to benefit tremendously from public health prevention strategies. Hearing loss (HL) has been recently shown to be a treatable risk factor for dementia.1 In this issue of JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Armstrong et al2 examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between HL and white matter (WM) microstructure among older adults. This study demonstrates novel longitudinal findings that suggest that structural change in the brain may underlie the association of HL with cognitive decline and dementia.3

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