Hearing loss and verbal memory assessment among older adults.

Objective: Research has found that adults with hearing loss perform worse on cognitive testing than adults without hearing loss; however, heavy emphasis on tests involving auditory stimuli may overdiagnose cognitive impairment among individuals with hearing loss. This study compared visual- and auditory-verbal memory tests among adults with and without hearing loss. Method: Forty-one adults with hearing loss (HL) and 41 age-matched adults with normal hearing (NH) completed a neuropsychological battery that included auditory and visual versions of the Hopkins Verbal Learning Testing-Revised (HVLT-R). A natural auditory condition presented HVLT-R stimuli at normal speaking volume. A crossed auditory condition presented HVLT-R stimuli to individuals with hearing loss with amplified acoustic intensity and to individuals with normal hearing under hearing loss simulation. Results: Mixed-model ANOVA indicated significant group (HL vs. NH) by condition (visual, natural auditory, crossed auditory) interactions for HVLT-R performance, with large effect sizes. The HL group performed significantly worse than the NH group on the natural auditory version; however, the NH group performed significantly worse than the HL group on the crossed condition. The groups were equivalent on the visual condition and all other cognitive tests, showing small effect sizes. Moreover, for the HL group, visual HVLT-R correlated with other cognitive tests whereas auditory versions did not. Conclusion: Cognitively intact older adults with hearing loss appeared impaired on auditory-verbal memory assessment under typical administration conditions. Visual assessment of verbal memory showed evidence of superior validity and is a viable alternative method to assess memory function especially in older populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)