Oticon Alta

Maintaining Balance and Listening at Same Time May Become More Difficult for Older Adults

Listening to a conversation or audio book while walking or exercising sounds simple enough for most people, but it may become more difficult for people in their upper 70s and above, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Researchers evaluated how well three groups of adults-healthy young (ages 24-27), old (ages 65-71), and "old-old" (ages 76-82 years)-were able to conduct a listening exercise while their visual and balance systems were kept busy. Seated in swivel chairs that were either upright or at a 30-degree tilt, the volunteers performed two listening-related tasks while motionless or spinning in darkness or in light. In one task, they listened to a high- or low-pitch tone and pressed a button in their right or left hand depending on the pitch. In the second task, volunteers listened to tones in their right or left ears and pressed the corresponding button.

The researchers found that, in general, all age groups reacted more slowly to the audio cues when spinning than when motionless. However, this was especially true for people in the oldest age group. They also found that stimulation of the ear's gravity-sensing organs-through the 30-degree tilt of the chair-was especially powerful in slowing down a person's auditory reaction time. Again, this effect was most pronounced for people in the oldest age group.

Scientists supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health, presented their research findings at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) in Baltimore.

The National Institute on Aging also supported this research.

Adapted from materials provided by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders www.nidcd.nih.gov

Share this Article

Comment

Related Content
Preferred Professionals Near You
See More Preferred Professionals

Clinics above not close enough?
Search with your zipcode below.

Sign Up for Our eNewsletter
Our free eNewsletter is delivered to your inbox every two weeks - it’s the best way to stay informed about what’s new at Healthy Hearing!
Preferred Hearing Professionals Near You

Jeffrey H. Aroesty MD, PC

400 Valley Rd Ste 105
Mount Arlington, NJ 07856

Click Here for Details

Total Hearing Care - Hillsborough

311 Courtyard Dr
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Click Here for Details

ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP - Bridgewater

245 US HWY 22 W 3rd fl
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Click Here for Details