Association of Speech Recognition Thresholds With Brain Volumes and White Matter Microstructure: The Rotterdam Study

Nicole M. Armstrong, Pauline H. Croll, Berthe C. Oosterloo, Frank R. Lin, M. Arfan Ikram, André Goedegebure, Meike W. Vernooij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Brain volumetric declines may underlie the association between hearing loss and dementia. While much is known about the peripheral auditory function and brain volumetric declines, poorer central auditory speech processing may also be associated with decreases in brain volumes. Methods: Central auditory speech processing, measured by the speech recognition threshold (SRT) from the Digits-in-Noise task, and neuroimaging assessments (structural magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] and fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity from diffusion tensor imaging), were assessed cross-sectionally in 2,368 Rotterdam Study participants aged 51.8 to 97.8 years. SRTs were defined continuously and categorically by degrees of auditory performance (normal, insufficient, and poor). Brain volumes from structural MRI were assessed on a global and lobar level, as well as for specific dementia-related structures (hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus). Multivariable linear regression models adjusted by age, age-squared, sex, educational level, alcohol consumption, intracranial volume (MRI only), cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, obesity, current smoking), and pure-tone average were used to determine associations between SRT and brain structure. Results: Poorer central auditory speech processing was associated with larger parietal lobe volume (difference in mL per dB increase= 0.24, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.42), but not with diffusion tensor imaging measures. Degrees of auditory performance were not associated with brain volumes and white matter microstructure. Conclusions: Central auditory speech processing in the presence of both vascular burden and pure-tone average may not be related to brain volumes and white matter microstructure. Longitudinal follow-up is needed to explore these relationships thoroughly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1202-1209
Number of pages8
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Brain volumes
  • Central auditory speech processing
  • Digits-in-noise test
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of Speech Recognition Thresholds With Brain Volumes and White Matter Microstructure: The Rotterdam Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this