Language Loss Hearing loss and dementia

Here’s a link to a news story about the relationship between hearing loss and the development of dementia.  In an 18-year study involving 639 subjects, Dr. Frank R. Lin and associates found that there was a correlation between hearing loss and dementia.

As this article explains, that doesn’t mean that we know there is a causal relationship.  Hearing loss and dementia, could, for  example, be caused by something which damages brain structures controlling memory and hearing.  However, given the important roll of language in the intellectual development of children and the recent discoveries that suggest that the brain has some of the same use-it-or-lose-it properties that our muscles have, it seems reasonable to ask the question:  does losing the ability to regularly use language (because of hearing loss) make us more susceptible to hearing loss?

As with most science, more research is needed. 🙂

Hearing loss associated with development of dementia.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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