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Executive functions: reaction time in persons with hearing loss and normal hearing
18 April 2018 (online)
Executive functions as superior cognitive functions are critical to successful behavioral adjustments in everyday life situations. In addition, an association between cognition and hearing impairment has been discussed for a long time. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether a hearing loss also affects the speed of information processing in executive functions of visual stimuli.
At the Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the Ruhr University Bochum various neurocognitive functions were examined in a computer based testing in 73 patients with severe hearing loss (M = 64.52 years, SD = 9.10) prior to CI operation. Not only the general performance, but also the rate of errors and the reaction time (RT) were evaluated. In addition, 83 subjects with a normal hearing ability, according to WHO criteria, (M = 65.02 years, SD = 9.12) were included. Both groups were comparable in age, gender and general intelligence as measured by the MWT-B. Neurological, psychiatric or visual disorders were not present in any of the examined persons.
The hearing-impaired group showed a significantly slower processing of compatible information (p = 0.034). In addition, there was a significantly longer RT for working memory abilities with respect to the Operation Span (p = 0.036) and the 2-back (p = 0.001). In contrast no effect of hearing impairment on RT was detected (p = 0.134).
The presented data suggest that enhanced cognitive overload due to hearing loss leads to a higher involvement of executive functions. Further studies have to show, whether they can be improved by cochlear implantation.