Association of Central Auditory Processing Dysfunction With Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether central auditory processing dysfunction measured by the dichotic digit test-1 digit (DDT1) is present in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) individuals who are cognitively normal (CN) older adults with the cerebral beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposition and to explore the potential of the DDT1 as a screening test for preclinical AD.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional design.
SETTING: A prospective observational cohort study.
METHODS: CN older adults with a global clinical dementia rating score of 0 were included. The hearing test battery including pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, distortion product otoacoustic emission, and DDT1 was administered to participants.
RESULTS: Fifty CN older adults were included. Among them, 38 individuals were included in the Aβ deposition negative (AN) group and 12 were included in the Aβ deposition positive (AP) group. The DDT1 scores of both the better and worse ears were significantly lower in the AP group than in the AN group (p = .008 and p = .015, respectively). No significant differences were observed between the groups in tests of the peripheral auditory pathways. In multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for apolipoprotein E4 positivity, the DDT1 better ear score predicted the AP group (p = .036, odds ratio = 0.892, 95% confidence interval: 0.780-0.985) with relatively high diagnostic accuracy.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that Aβ deposition may affect the central auditory pathway even before cognitive decline appears. DDT1, which can easily be applied to the old-age population, may have the potential as a screening tool for preclinical AD.