Cranking up your headphones or scrambling for a front-row spot at rock shows could be damaging to more than your hearing. Research appearing in eNeuro has found that young people with subtle hearing loss--the kind they are not even aware of--are putting demands on their brains that typically would not be seen until later in life.
"Hearing loss, even minor deficits, can take a toll in young people; they are using cognitive resources that could be preserved until much later in life," says lead researcher Yune Lee. "Most concerning, this early hearing loss could pave the way for dementia."
As part of the natural aging process, humans begin to use more of their right frontal brain to process language. In healthy young people, though, the left side is wholly responsible for language comprehension, "but in our study, young people with mild hearing decline were already experiencing this phenomenon. Their brains already know that the perception of sound is not what it used to be and the right side starts compensating for the left."
It is unclear what this means for people as they age, but Lee indicates he is concerned that tapping into the right brain so early in life could mean worse hearing comprehension with age--and he...